Advertisement Consent and Heritage
The erection of an advertisement is controlled under the Town and County Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007 (ref. 1). The erection of an outdoor advertisement does not require planning permission, provided it is properly authorised under the regulations.
Further guidance may be found in the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG).
The definition of an advertisement
An advertisement is “any word, letter, model, sign, placard, board, notice, awning, blind, device or representation, whether illuminated or not, in the nature of, and employed wholly or partly for the purposes of, advertisement, announcement or direction” (ref. 3). The definition includes not just the sign but also any hoarding or similar structure used or designed or adapted for use for the display of advertisements. It does not, therefore, just cover commercial adverts.
Listed building and scheduled monument consent for advertisements
The display of insensitively designed or sited adverts can harm the appearance of a listed building, or detract from its setting. The erection of a new sign or advert of any size on or attached to a listed building would almost always required listed building consent as it is very likely to be considered an alteration that affected its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.
The replacement of one sign on a listed building with another of similar design would not usually require listed building consent as long as it does not affect the special interest of the building. If a sign or advert is not actually attached to a listed building it would not require listed building consent however much it might affect its setting.
The considerations in giving listed building consent for an advertisement are the same as they are for any listed building consent application. The statutory duty to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the listed building and its setting must be observed (ref. 4) and the policies in the NPPF should be adhered to (ref. 5).
Obtaining advertisement consent
There are a number of classes of advertisements that have either deemed or express consent under the regulations (ref. 1) (for example, advertisements which are incorporated into the fabric of a building for which planning permission was obtained, or an advertisement relating to a local government election).
Any advertisements not falling within these classes will require advertisement consent.
When considering applications for advertisements that require consent, the local planning authority may only take into account two considerations: amenity and public safety. Amenity is generally considered to be visual appearance and the pleasance of the environment generally, including the general characteristics of the locality and any feature of historic, architectural, cultural or similar interest there (ref. 2).
If the advertisement is in a conservation area, a local planning authority must also pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character of appearance of that area (ref. 6).
If advertisement consent is refused by the local planning authority it is possible to appeal. In practice, appeals are determined either through written representations or an informal hearing. In determining an appeal the inspector will be guided by the same considerations as a local planning authority.
Applications for advertisement consent are processed in much same way as planning applications and can be granted subject to conditions or refused.
Where an area has an amenity value that requires stricter controls then it may be designated by the local planning authority as an area of special control. The control of advertisements in such areas is much stricter than elsewhere. This may be appropriate for areas of architectural or historic significance, such as conservation areas.
Discontinuance of deemed consent
Although an advertisement may have deemed consent, the local planning authority may serve a discontinuance notice on the owner and occupier of the land and on the advertiser requiring it to be removed where it considers the removal to be necessary to remedy a substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or a danger to members of the public.
It is possible for the advertiser to appeal against a discontinuance notice. The appeal can consider the prospective removal of other advertisements in the area as well as the merits of the advertisement in question.
Areas of special control
Every local planning authority is obliged to consider whether any part of their area should be an area of special control for advertisements because of the need to protect amenity, but not public safety (ref. 7).
Any such designation has to be approved by the Secretary of State (Levelling Up, Housing and Communities). The effect is to limit some of the categories of advertisement that benefit from deemed consent. Areas of special control are likely also to be conservation areas, but one designation does not follow the other. Before formally proposing an area of special control the authority is expected to consult local trade and amenity organisations about the proposal (ref. 8).
(2) Planning Practice Guidance: Advertisements, 2014 (paragraph 18b-079-20140306)
(5) National Planning Policy Framework, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, July 2021
(8) Planning Practice Guidance: Advertisements, 2014 (paragraph 18b-055-20140306)