Cases involving advertisement consents rarely make it beyond the High Court but the recent case of Putney Bridge Approach Ltd v (1) Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2) Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council & JC Decaux Ltd made it all the way to the Court of Appeal. The case concerned deemed consent for the use of an office building for the display of illuminated advertisements on the River Thames. The Council’s decision to withdraw deemed consent on the grounds that the display of the advertisements was likely to cause substantial injury to the amenity of the locality was upheld first by a planning inspector, then by the Planning Court (part of the High Court) and then, in October last year, by the Court of Appeal. This case serves as a reminder that the advertisement consent regime is not without its complexities so we thought it would be useful to publish a short blog on the basics of advertisements law in England.
The display of advertisements is controlled under a separate regime within the planning system. This blog post considers advertisement control in England under that separate regime, which is governed principally by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisement) (England) Regulations 2007 (the “CAR 2007”). In particular, we discuss:
- What is an ‘advertisement’?
- Who controls advertisements?
- Is express advertisement consent always required?
- Is planning permission also required for the display of advertisements?
- Are conditions attached to advertisement consent?
- What powers are there to erect advertisements in the highway?
What is an ‘advertisement’?
For the purposes of the CAR 2007, the definition of ‘advertisement’ is contained in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 at section 336(1). ‘Advertisement’ is widely defined and includes a range of outdoor advertisements and signs including posters, placards, fascia signs, directional signs, estate agents’ boards, flag advertisements and price displays.
Who controls advertisements?
Local planning authorities (“LPAs”) are responsible for overseeing compliance with the CAR 2007. Generally speaking, the local planning authority is the district council, county council or, if in Greater London, the relevant London borough council.
Is express advertisement consent always required?
No. Certain advertisements benefit from so-called ‘deemed’ consent and others do not require express consent at all, provided certain criteria and conditions are met.
Is planning permission also required for the display of advertisements?
Where an advertisement is displayed in accordance with the CAR 2007 and the display of the advertisement involves the development of land, planning permission is deemed to be granted under section 222 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Planning permission is, however, only deemed where the structure’s primary purpose is to display an advertisement.
It should, however, be noted that other statutory regimes must still be complied with. If, for example, the display of an advertisement would affect a listed building, consent under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 may still be required.
Are conditions attached to advertisement consent?
Yes. In fact, all advertisements, whether they require express consent or not, are subject to the standard conditions in Schedule 2 of the CAR 2007, which are:
- No advertisement is to be displayed without 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 highway land).
- No advertisement is to be displayed which would obscure, or hinder the interpretation of, official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport.
- Any advertisement must be maintained in a condition that does not impair the visual amenity of the site.
- Any advertisement hoarding or structure is to be kept in a condition that does not endanger the public.
- If an advertisement is required to be removed, the site must be left in a condition that does not endanger the public or impair visual amenity.
What powers are there to erect advertisements in the highway?
It is an offence to obstruct the highway and highway authorities have powers under the Highways Act 1980 (the “HA 1980”) to remove such obstructions. There are, however, a number of powers in the HA 1980 that provide for agreements to address common highway activities to ensure that they are properly controlled. Highway authority consent to placing advertisements in the highway is therefore often pursuant to powers in the HA 1980 in addition to the CAR 2007. Examples of where consent might be needed pursuant to the HA 1980 as well include the erection of ‘A’ boards, banners and hoardings.