Frequently Asked Questions
What is an advertisement?
An advertisement is a poster, placard, a fascia sign, a projecting signs, pole signs, canopy signs, models and devices, advance signs and directional signs, estate agents boards, captive balloon advertisements (not balloons in flight), flag advertisements, price displays, traffic signs and place name signs. Memorials and railway signals are not advertisements.
The standard conditions in the regulations for all advertisements is that they are kept clean and tidy and in a safe condition. They must have the permission of the site owner including the Council on highway land. They must not block the view of road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs and they must not be so permanent that they cannot be removed if required.
Do I need permission to display advertisements?
Yes, unless your advert is allowed for in the Advert Regulations and this page gives advice. The definitive rules are in the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements Regulations 1992) (as amended).
There are three different groups of outdoor advertisement covered by the regulations.
Which advertisements can I simply just display according to the Regulations?
- One captive balloon advertisement not more than 60 metres in the air for not more than 10 days a year provided it's not in a Conservation Area. Balloons over 60m in the air are also subject to Civil Aviation Authority (www.caa.co.uk ) controls.
- Advertisements in enclosed sites like railway stations, bus stations or sports stadiums.
- Advertisements displayed on a vehicle provided it is not static.
- Advertisements that are integral to a building elevation like names carved into stone facades.
- Price tickets or trade names of up to 0.1sqm displayed on the petrol pumps or vending machines.
- Advertisements about elections provided they are removed 14 days after close of poll.
- Advertisements required by any Parliamentary Order or Act.
- Traffic signs and particularly any traffic signs required by the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
- A national flag flown on a single vertical flagpole provided there is nothing added to the flag or the pole.
- Non-illuminated adverts inside a building not within one metre of any opening through which they can be seen.
Which classes of advertisement benefit from deemed consent provisions?
Regulations allow for certain advertisements to be displayed without needing a specific application. This is "deemed consent" but to take advantage of it's provisions you need to abide by certain conditions. If you can't fit into one of the classes you need to submit an application.
Class I: advertisements by public bodies.
The Council, public utilities and public transport operators can erect notices and adverts, timetables, warning notices, byelaw signs etc. providing: -
1) Illumination is not permitted unless reasonably required for the purpose of the advertisement.
2) No advertisement may exceed 1.55 square metres in area’.
Class 2: miscellaneous advertisements.
This gives consent for three types of small notices and signs on any premises. In all cases no letters or symbols on the signs may be over 0.75m in height but only signs for medical services can be illuminated.
- Class 2(A) permits house numbers or names and signs no bigger than 0.3sqm like 'Shut the Gate', 'Beware of the Dog' or 'No Parking Please'.
- Class 2(B) permits signs or brass plates stating company names. Again they must not exceed 0.3sqm but if there are separate entrances on different road frontages, a 0.3sqm sign can be displayed on each frontage.
- Class 2(C) permits a signs not exceeding 1.2sqm which name institutions; public houses, hotels, blocks of flats, clubs, etc. If there is more than one entrance to the premises on different road frontages, a sign of 1.2sqm can be displayed on each frontage.
Class 3: temporary advertisements.
Class 3 gives consent for six types of temporary notices and signs.
- Class 3(A) permits estate agents boards. For agricultural or commercial premises the board must not exceed 2sqm or if two boards are joined together to form a single advertisement, a surface area of 2.3sqm. For residential property or housing developments, the advertisement board must not exceed 0.5sqm or a total area of 0.6sqm if two boards are joined together.
No board is allowed to project more than one metre from a building. In all cases only one board may be displayed on premises and this must be removed 14 days after completion of sale or letting.
- Class 3(B) permits advertisements announcing sales and auctions on land or premises. This would include house auctions and livestock sales. The board must not exceed 1.2sqm and be at the place of the sale.
- Class 3(C) permits construction contractors boards while works are actually taking place. A main contractor can display a 2sqm board but then every additional contractor or consultant can only have an extra panel of 0.4sqm. But, if the development project is known by a particular name, the size of the main advertisement board may be increased by a further 20 per cent to enable the name to be displayed.
If more than 10 metres away from a highway, the board can be 3sq m plus a further 0.6sqm for additional firms. If the board is already being displayed other names can be displayed on separate boards for up to three months, provided that they are no larger than 0 5sqm on each road frontage.
- Class 3(D) permits temporary notices no larger than 0.6sqm for local charity events. These are adverts for church bazaars, fetes, a charity road race, amateur sports events but no commercial events. See further information for Temporary Advertisements on Street Furniture.
- Class 3(E) permits temporary notices no larger than 1.2sqm advertising some sort of agriculture demonstration on land for up to six months.
- Class 3(F) permits notices for a circus or fair. These must not be displayed more than 14 days before opening and must be removed within seven days after closing. The Council must be told 14 days beforehand where the notices will be sited. See further information for Temporary Advertisements on Street Furniture.
Class 3 adverts must not be illuminated, not have any letters or symbols over 0.75m tall and barring estate agents boards on taller buildings, be over 4.6m high. Also if the board relates to a sale or event it must not appear 28 days before the event and must be removed within 14 days after.
Class 4: Illuminated advertisements on business premises.
Class 4 permits adverts with illuminated letters on a non-illuminated background provided:
- there is no intermittent light source, moving feature, animation or exposed cold cathode tubing;
- must consist of one fascia with one protecting sign at right angles on the wall with the shop window;
- must he at least 2.5m above ground level at it's lowest point;
- the facia panel must not project more than 0.25m from the wall;
- if a projecting sign, this must not exceed 0.25m between the two sides,
- class 4 does not include any adverts in a Conservation Area.
- Class 4(A) permits internally or halo illuminated adverts on premises within a retail park but only on a frontage which faces or overlooks a communal car park. A projecting sign on these premises must not exceed 1sqm, project more than 1m from the wall or be more than 1.5m deep.
- Class 4(B) permits internally or 'halo' illuminated adverts on other business premises if they relate wholly the business conducted. A projecting sign must not exceed 0.75sqm in area, project more than 1m, exceed two thirds of the width of the pavement below it or be more than one sixth of the frontage measured to the top of the advertisement. Maximum levels for luminance can be applied if challenged.
Class 5: other advertisements on business premises.
Class 5 gives consent for the usual signs you see on business premises but they must only refer to the business and the goods for sale at the premises. These signs must not have letters over 0.75m in height or be more than 4.6 metres above ground level. They must not be above the level of any first floor window in the wall where the advertisement situated and only signs for medical services can be illuminated under this class. For shops, an advertisement may be displayed only on walls that have shop windows. Apart from that there are no restrictions on number.
Class 6: advertisements on forecourts of business premises.
Class 6 gives consent to display adverts referring to the business, on forecourts such as the area in front of a newsagent's shop, the pump area of a petrol filling station or a terrace in front of a café. A forecourt does not include areas of pavement forming part of the highway, which means that 'A' boards on pavements in the highway are not permitted by this section.
Any of these adverts must be at ground level and the total area for all these adverts on a forecourt must not exceed 4.5sqm. A building with two forecourt frontages can have up to 4.5sqm of adverts on each frontage. Forecourt advertisements must not be illuminated.
Class 7: flag advertisements.
- Class 7(A) Permits one advertisement flag on one flagpole, fixed upright on the roof of a building. There is no height limit for this but the flag itself must not exceed 2sqm in area and may only have the name or trade mark of the building occupants. Flags are not permitted to advertise products, unless there is specific consent.
- Class 7(B) permits the display of advertising flags on housing development sites and where new houses remain available for sale. The rules for class 7(B) are that each flag must be on a single vertical flagpole. There may be one flag on a site with up to 10 houses and two flags on a site with between 11 to 100 houses, over 100 homes may have three flags. Each flagpole must not exceed 4.6m and they must be removed within one year of completion.
Class 8: poster hoardings around temporary construction sites.
Class 8 permits the display, for three years only, of poster hoardings used to screen construction sites during construction. This consent is limited to land for commercial development, not any residential development sites.
Not allowed until three months before commencement, they may not be more than 3.1m high or 12.1m long each. They are only allowed for three years and the advertiser must notify Council at least 14 days before display quoting the planning permission for the site. There may however be a reasonable level of illumination.
Class 9: four-sheet poster panels displayed on purpose designed highway structures.
Class 9 enables the smallest standard size of poster panel (known as four-sheet) to be displayed on structures in the highway with the Council's approval under the Highway Act 1980 (section 115E). The rules for class 9 are that the structure, such as a bus shelter or kiosk must be purpose designed for displaying this size of poster panel and it must not exceed 2.16sqm in area. No illumination is permitted. This exclude bill posting.
Class 10: Neighbourhood Watch Signs.
Class 10 allows for Neighbourhood Watch and similar signs provided the signs are not over 0.2sqm, no higher than 3.6 metres above ground level but if the signs are in the highway you must obtain road traffic permission. If the scheme ceases to operate, the sign must be removed within 14 days.
Class 11: directional advertisements.
Class 11 permits house builders to put up temporary directional signs for new development. The rules are that signs must not exceed 0. 15sqm or be above 4.6 m high. Lettering must be between 40 mm and 250 mm high, no reflective material should be used and it must not look like a traffic sign.
The sign can be near to but not in the highway and should not be within 50 metres of an official traffic sign facing in the same direction. No sign may be more than two miles from the site entrance. 14 days before any sign is put up the local planning authority must be told where it is to be displayed and no sign may be displayed two years after development is completed.
Class 12: advertisements displayed inside buildings.
Class 12 permits advertisements to be displayed inside a building if they are illuminated like a sign inside a chemists window.
Class l3: sites used for displaying advertisements on 1st April 1974.
This class allows these signs to remain but does not permit a change to the extent of the use of the site.
Class 14: advertisements displayed after the expiry of express consent.
This is a technical approval to allow signs with temporary consent to stay in position unless the Council seeks their removal. Express permissions usually have consent to stay for only five years so this class allows them to stay until specifically challenged.
Advertisements which need specific permission, and how to obtain it.
What usually needs express consent meaning you need to apply for permission?
You usually need consent for virtually all hoardings, illuminated signs out the deemed consent allowances, facia signs and projecting signs on shop-fronts or business premises which are higher than 4.6m above ground level and most advertisements on gable ends. You also need permission for signs advertising goods not sold at the premises where the sign is situated.
How to apply for advertisement consent
To apply you need to complete the application form, prepare plans and drawings to say what form the advertisements will take and show exactly where the site will be. Pay the fee for the application. Then send in all three to the Council.
How your application for consent is decided.
Your application will be dealt with in 8 weeks and will be subject to the normal Planning and Building Control procedures for planning applications. When considering applications, the Council takes into account aspects of 'amenity' and 'public safety'. Some advice on this is in Planning Policy Guidance Note 19 (Planning Portal )
Amenity usually means the effect an advertisement has on the immediate neighbourhood. For example, if an advertisement is visually dominating a group of 'listed' buildings or a residential area it would be refused. But where there are large buildings and main highways, for example in industrial or commercial areas, the Council may grant consent for a large hoarding which might not look out of place.
Amenity considerations do not include content, subject matter, or public decency. These factors are controlled by a voluntary 'code of conduct' supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority (www.asa.org.uk/ ).
Public safety means the safety of road traffic, other modes of transport or pedestrians. The Council assesses likely effects on driver behaviour and confusion with traffic signs or signals. The Council knows that advertisements are intended to attract people's attention, so signs would not automatically be regarded as a distraction to road users. However, what really matters is whether a sign is so distracting or confusing that it creates a danger.
What happens after the authority's decision?
Approvals for advertisements are usually temporary for five years but the Council can grant consent for a longer or shorter period so check the decision notice. Unless the Council have imposed a condition that your advertisement must be removed after your consent expires you may continue to display it without a further application unless the Council takes discontinuance action against it.
What happens if the planning authority refuse consent?
If the Council refuse your application or impose a condition you do not like you have right to appeal. You can also appeal we fail to give a decision within eight weeks. But you can not appeal if we have treated your application as "withdrawn" because it is the same as one refused at appeal within the preceding two years. This is a specific provision in the regulations.
How and when you can appeal to the Secretary of State.
If you wish to appeal you must contact the Planning Inspectorate. The best way to appeal a to complete the official advertisement appeal form which is available from them and which explains the procedure. You must appeal within eight weeks of the decision notification and the appeal decision is usually final.
The Council can prosecute illegal advertisers but unless the offence is especially flagrant or repeated we will invite an application. The continued display of advertisements after refusal and any appeal dismissed, would result in prosecution. The maximum fine on conviction is presently £1,000 with additional daily fines on conviction of a continuing offence.
Fly posting is also open to prosecution and signs can simply be removed. If the signs identify the advertiser we will give two days notice of removal which then can be contested.
This action is taken when any advertisements in the deemed consent categories cause a substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or a danger to members of the public. We will ensure that the advertiser, the land-owner and any occupiers receive copies of the discontinuance notice. The notice will state the period within which the display or use must stop, the reasons why, and when the notice comes into effect.
Anyone who receives a discontinuance notice has a right of appeal before it takes effect. If the appeal fails the display must stop on the date specified in the appeal decision.