Most types of Outdoor advertisements are controlled by the Town and Country (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992.   This legislation details the adverts requiring advert consent (a form of planning consent).

The main types excluded from control (generally not requiring permission from the Local Planning Authority) include: 

  • Those displayed on enclosed land or inside buildings and not visible outside;
  • Those displayed on moving vehicles or boats;
  • Advertisements which form an integral part of a building’s fabric;
  • Information about local, parliamentary and European elections;
  • Road traffic signs;
  • Flags – national, European Union; Commonwealth, United Nations, English County flags and saints' flags (associated with a particular county).

All outdoor advertisements must comply with five 'standard conditions'.

They must:

  • Be kept clean and tidy;
  • Be kept in a safe condition;
  • Have the permission of the owner of the site on which they are displayed (this includes the Highway Authority if the sign is to be placed on the highway land);
  • Not obscure, or hinder the interpretation of, official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport;
  • Be removed carefully where so required by the planning authority.

Deemed consent

Many other types of advertising benefit from what is known as "Deemed Consent" - you do not need to submit a formal application, subject to complying with certain restrictions.

These restrictions normally relate to the number or locations of adverts or signs permitted, size of the display, its height above ground, the size of any lettering and whether or not it is illuminated.  Adverts with deemed consent may include:

  • "Functional Advertisements" by bodies such as the government departments and agencies and the District Council about our services, or bus timetables on bus stops.
  • Signs on and giving information about business premises, places of worship, educational, recreational or cultural establishments.
  • Advertisements on the forecourts of business premises, including shops, restaurants, cafés and petrol filling stations.
  • Temporary advertisements, including estate agents’ boards, contractor’s signs on building sites, adverts for local community events but not of a commercial nature) and poster-hoardings which are being used to screen building while the work is being carried out.
  • Direction signs to house building sites and advertisements, including flags at the sites themselves.
  • Neighbourhood Watch signs.
  • Advertisements on highway structures.
  • Advertisements on telephone kiosks.

Full details of adverts benefitting from deemed consent and the restrictions can be found in the Town and Country (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992

Within Three Rivers District there are also Areas of Special Advertisement Control which are subject to a stricter rules for the display of deemed consent advertisements. If a site falls within this designation, it will be listed under the ‘Constraints’ section of each address/property on Planning Online.

Express consent

If your proposed advertisement or sign is not “excluded from control” and does not meet the "Deemed Consent" criteria, you must apply for "Express Consent". See Application forms and guidance notes.

Advertisements displayed in contravention of the Regulations are an immediate offence which is open to prosecution by the Local Planning Authority, under section 224 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

See below for further information, government guidance and legislation:

If you wish to advertise a not for profit community based / charitable event or organisation, please contact the Project and Compliance Team to discuss your requirements.

Contact Details

If you feel an advert is being displayed unlawfully, please contact the Projects and Compliance Team.

You will need to provide the following information:

    • Your name, address and contact telephone number;
    • The address of the enforcement complaint; and
    • The details of the complaint.

Please note: we cannot investigate anonymous complaints. However, all complainant details are kept confidential and are exempt from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

Follow the links in ‘Suggested Next Steps’ (below) for further information on enforcement of planning breaches.

Suggested Next Steps: