Practical Guide to Advertisement Consent in England

If you want to display an advert or sign on a business property in England, you’ll likely need advertisement consent from your local planning authority.  This guide provides a practical overview of the advertisement consent process to help you navigate the requirements and get the consent you need.

What is Advertisement Consent?

Advertisement consent gives you permission to display an advertisement in a specified location for a set period under the  Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.

Adverts can comprise:

  • posters and notices
  • placards and boards
  • fascia signs and projecting signs
  • pole signs and canopy signs
  • models and devices
  • advance signs and directional signs
  • estate agents’ boards
  • captive balloon advertising (not balloons in flight)
  • flag advertisements
  • price markers and price displays
  • traffic signs
  • town and village name-signs

Type of adverts are generally split into 3 groups:

  • advertisements which have been given ‘deemed consent’ when an advertisement meets specific criteria. These adverts so nor need consent from the local planning authority’s consent;
  • advertisements for which the planning authority’s ‘express consent’ is needed, and so an application is required to be submitted; and
  • advertisements which are exempt from control, without needing ‘deemed or express’ consent.

When do I need Advertisement Consent?

In this article we’re going to focus on those advertisements which require ‘express consent’.  If you want to display an advertisement or signage that is larger than 0.3 square metres, or if it will be illuminated, you will likely need advertisement consent from your local planning authority.

This applies whether you want to put up the advertisement on the outside of your property, which could be a home or business premises.

Temporary notices or signs up to 0.6 square metres advertising local events like street parties, concerts or fairs may also qualify for a short-term exemption from consent.

However, estate agents’ boards generally have separate regulations. Most council guidelines state that for-sale signs should not exceed 0.5 square metres to qualify as permitted development without consent.

The Government have produced a very useful booklet, Outdoor advertisements & Signs: a guide for advertisers, arranged in separate sections and there are numerous illustrations which may show you how the system affects the type of advertisement you want to display.

How to apply for Advertisement Consent

Follow these 5 steps to apply:

  1. Check if consent is required – if in doubt, check with your local council or a town planning consultant;
  2. Plan your advert – create a design, dimensions, materials used and location.  When applying, you’ll need to provide details like the advert size, materials, illumination, colours and more. Drawings, photos and a site plan are essential;
  3. Gather information – include photos, drawings, a site plan and details about nearby buildings;
  4. Complete the application form – available from your local planning authority or online on the Planning Portal;
  5. Pay the application fee.

A town planning consultant can help you with the process, if needed.

What’s the timescale for a decision?

 The council will review your application – they have 8 weeks to make a decision, however local planning authorities may take longer due to backlog, staff resources, they may ask for more information or ask you to revise your plans etc.

What will the Council consider during the determination of an application?

The council will consider factors like amenity, public safety and whether the advert is intrusive or distracting to people. They aim to strike a balance between business needs and protecting the local environment.

Whilst advertisements are there to attract attention, the Council will consider issues relating to amenity and public safety.

Amenity – includes aural and visual amenity.  Factors relevant to amenity include the general characteristics of the locality, including the presence of any feature of historic, architectural, cultural or similar interest.  If the advertisement makes a noise, aural amenity would also be taken into account before express consent would be given.

Public Safety – Public safety is not confined to road safety and includes all of the considerations which are relevant to the safe use and operation of any form of traffic or transport on land (including the safety of pedestrians), over water or in the air.  In terms of traffic proposed advertisements in areas where drivers need to take more care, such as junctions, roundabouts, pedestrian crossings etc are more likely to affect public safety.

While issues unrelated to amenity or public safety could be raised, these factors alone should determine the council’s decision.  For example, arguments about the economic benefits, sustainability, or the need for an advertisement, should not influence the decision.

Assessing advertisement control should be based solely on protecting amenity and public safety.  The Planning Practice Guidance is clear that unless an advert is inherently harmful to amenity or safety due to its nature, consent cannot be refused just because the council considers the advert misleading, unnecessary or offensive.

Do I have a right of appeal?

If your application is refused, you can lodge an appeal within 8 weeks. The Planning Inspectorate will assess the council’s decision in relation to advertisement regulations including the effects on  amenity and public safety.

The Planning Inspectorate deal mostly with these appeals under the ‘Commercial Appeals Service’ (CAS) and try to fast track these appeal, similar to householder appeals.

The Government has further information on how to make an appeal, Appeal a decision above consent to display an advert.

Things to be aware of…

Once express consent is approved, you’ll typically have 5 years until consent expires, you’ll need to reapply to continue displaying the advert.

You may need separate listed building or advertisement consent for some properties.  Some locations have additional restrictions – for example, conservation areas or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The council can revoke consent at any time if an advert causes unacceptable problems or becomes hazardous. They may ask you to modify or remove it.

Anyone who displays an advertisement without the necessary consent or without complying with the conditions attached to a consent could be prosecuted in the Magistrates’ Court for an offence under section 224 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The penalty on conviction for the offence is at level 4 on the standard scale (current maximum £2,500) and in the case of a continuing offence a further daily fine of up to a maximum of one tenth of that amount (£250) until the contravention ends.

Related Content

Take a look at our article Do I need Advertisement Consent? for further information.

A town planner can assist with submitting an advertisement consent application by providing expertise on the regulations and guidelines that govern advertisements.  They can advise on best locations and help ensure that the application meets all the necessary criteria.  Take a look at blog on When to Hire a Town Planner our download a Guide on How to Choose a Town Planner, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require assistance.  Contact Us for a chat.

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