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Sections 220 and 221 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provide that the display of certain outdoor adverts requires the consent of the local planning authority subject to certain exceptions. The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulation's 1992 provide the relevant legislation.
What types of ‘advert’?
There are 3 different groups of outdoor adverts:
- Adverts which are deliberately excluded from the local planning authority’s control e.g. traffic signs.
- Adverts for which the rules give a deemed consent so that the planning authority’s consent is not needed provided the advert meets certain criteria e,g, certain signs in shops.
- Adverts which the local planning authority's express consent is always needed e.g. advertisement poster sites.
Each application is considered on its own merits. However, the power of the local planning authority to control advertisements is merely in relation to ‘amenity’ and ‘public safety’.
This is usually understood to mean the effect upon visual amenity in the immediate neighbourhood of displaying the advertisement or using an advertisement site where passers-by or people living there, will be aware of the advertisement. So in assessing amenity, the local planning authority will always consider the local characteristics of the neighbourhood.
Consideration must be given to the safe use and operation of any form of traffic or transport on land, over water or in the air. So, for this purpose, the local planning authority must assess the likely effects of an advert in relation to such matters as the behaviour of drivers, possible confusion with any traffic signs or signal.
The content of an advertisement cannot be controlled by the Local Planning Authority. These matters are regulated by the Advert Standard Association.