Display of signs and advertisements

The display of all signage is controlled by national legislation. This section gives further information regarding the display of signs and advertisements.

Advertising local events

See our handy guide to advertising local events

National legislation governs advertising and putting signs up for local events - see the section below.

Signs advertising a local, social or charitable event can be displayed in accordance with the conditions of Class 3D of Schedule 3 of the Advertisement Regulations.

This class permits temporary notices or signs which are intended to advertise such events which may be religious, educational, cultural, political, social or recreational, but not for any commercial purpose. Examples of these signs are for a church bazaar, school fete for a parent- teacher association, a sponsored run for charity, or amateur sports event not organised for commercial purposes.

The permitted maximum size for any one sign is 0.60 square metres.

These events can be advertised on town and village notice boards, official advertisement sites, notice boards in clubs, shops and public halls, in free papers and village news sheets or even the increasing use of town and village web sites.

The provision of specific notice boards to display these signs can form a focal point to a village or town. The boards themselves can contribute to the character and appearance of the area by careful choice of design and materials to reflect the area in which it is located.

Those wishing to display signs on private land, should obtain the land owners permission and use locations away from road junctions or other road signs, so as not to cause distraction and impair the safety of road users.

Whilst the legislation permits these signs to be displayed up to 28 days prior to the event, studies have found that the longer a sign is in position, the less impact it has, reducing its effectiveness compared to that of a sign displayed for a shorter duration. The sign must be removed within 14 days of the end of the event, but unfortunately, signs not removed immediately, tend to be forgotten and remain indefinitely, deteriorating and causing an unsightly litter scene.

National legislation controlling display of signage

Town & Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007

This lists all the different types of sign that are exempt from control (schedule 1), or can be displayed with deemed consent (schedule 3), providing they meet the stated conditions. An application for express consent must be made for any other sign not in these two schedules. No sign must be displayed without the appropriate consent.

Find out more about Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements (England) Regulations 2007

Outdoor Advertisements and Signs - A Guide for Advertisers

Further information is provided in the Governments simplified leaflet but you must consult the full Regulations for detail as the guide currently contains errors and omissions.

Find out more about Outdoor Advertisements and Signs - A Guide for Advertisers

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

In addition to the Regulations, the Government increased the powers of local authorities to issue spot penalties and remove unauthorised signs. The current fine under this legislation in the district of South Somerset is currently £80 / sign.

Find out more about Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Town & Country Planning Act 1990

This is the legislative basis for the Advertisement Regulations.

Find out more about Town and Country Planning Act 1990


Find out more about advertising.

Criminal offence

Most unauthorised developments are initially only a breach of planning control, however, in the case of the display of unauthorised signs, it is an absolute criminal offence for which the responsible person(s) may be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court. In such cases the fine upon summary conviction under this legislation is currently a maximum £2500 per sign.

Section 224 (3)

Without prejudice to any provisions included in such regulations by virtue of subsection (1) or (2), if any person displays an advertisement in contravention of the regulations he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of such amount as may be prescribed.

Those who may be prosecuted are;

  • the owner of the site on which the advertisement is displayed;
  • the occupier of the site if different; and
  • any other person who undertakes or maintains the display of the advertisement.

Definition of an advertisement

Section 336 (as amended in Planning and Compensation Act 1991)

"Advertisement" means 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, and (without prejudice to the previous provisions of this definition) includes any hoarding or similar structure used or designed, or adapted for use , and anything else principally used, or designed, or adapted principally for use for the display of advertisements, and references to the display of advertisements shall be construed accordingly".

Why control signage and advertisements?

  • to protect the environment in which we live from the display of inappropriate signs, which can be detrimental to the visual appearance of an area, or be a risk to the safety of the public using our highways.
  • Signs positioned near or on a highway can cause distraction to road users and can result in accidents.
  • Signs which have not been securely fixed can become detached and may pose as a danger to the public
  • A multitude of unauthorised signs can confuse visitors to the area and undo all effort and money spent on tourism and promoting the area.


Apply for advertising consent

If you are unsure your proposed sign requires express consent for its display, please contact our Planning team.

Apply for Advertisement Consent