On 6 April 2007 new outdoor advertising regulations come into force, making significant changes to a regime that has remained unchanged since 1999. They will tighten the regime over large illuminated and moving displays and give local authorities stronger and more flexible powers to tackle advertising along motorways and trunk roads. James Pond reports.
Who: Department for Communities and Local Government
When: March 2007
Following a consultation last year, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published new planning Regulations for the regulation of outdoor advertising in England (The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007). These new Regulations replace the existing regime which had been unchanged since 1999, and they will come into force on 6 April 2007.
Although the new Regulations have been billed as giving councils stronger and more flexible powers to tackle unlawful advertising alongside motorways and trunk roads which dangerously distract drivers and blight the countryside, they do not make sweeping changes and retain the current framework for controlling outdoor advertising as follows:
1. Advertisements which may be displayed provided they comply with certain conditions, for example advertisements displayed on enclosed land (such as railways stations).
2. Advertisements for which the Regulations give a "deemed consent". Provided certain conditions are complied with the advertisements may be displayed without having to apply to the local planning authority for consent – for example static illuminated advertisements on business premises and directional advertisements to new residential development. Local planning authorities have powers to remove the "deemed" consent (discontinuance).
3. Advertisements for which the planning authority's "express consent" is always needed. These include large commercial advertisements with illumination and moving displays.
The new Regulations do make various changes to reflect the change in technology over the past 8 years, for example on moving and sequential advertisements and illumination, and to rationalise some parts of the old regime.
At the same time the DCLG has announced a new national database which will monitor details of prosecutions and formal cautions against companies and individuals who have unlawfully displayed advertisements, with the intention on focussing resources on persistent offenders across different local planning authority jurisdictions.
Why this matters:
Although the Regulations do not make wholesale changes to the current regime, anybody involved in the outdoor advertising industry would be well advised to take a look at the new Regulations as soon as possible bearing in mind they will come into force on 6 April 2007.
The DCLG have also helpfully published updated official guidance on the new Regulations (Circular 03/07: Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007) which is now available from their website (www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1509212). (Many thanks go to Jim Rothwell of the Advertising Association for bringing our attention to the recent release of this guidance on 29 March).