Council faces penalty for blocking adverts rights

Conditions limiting the lifespan and luminosity of a digital advertisement screen in the centre of Liverpool are wholly unnecessary and unreasonable, an inspector has decided.

One of the disputed conditions required the removal of a digital screen 4.6 metres wide and seven metres high and all associated development from the site, which already featured a hoarding, at the end of five years. The inspector felt this was unreasonable because it removed the appellant’s right to continue to display the advertisement under deemed consent provisions that would otherwise apply after the expiry of the express consent.

The council cited regulation 14 of the Advertisement Regulations, which gives local authorities powers to impose additional conditions as well as the standard conditions. The inspector noted that national Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) requires such conditions to be supported by specific and relevant planning reasons. In this case, he determined that the council had failed to provide sufficient reasons for attaching the condition. It could still issue a discontinuance notice seeking removal of the screen if deemed necessary on amenity or highway safety grounds, he pointed out.

The inspector also noted that PPG states that conditions should never be imposed because a local planning authority wishes, as a matter of general policy, to prevent the operation of advertisements displayed in its area after the expiry of express consent. In awarding costs against the council on this point, he took into account a number of previous appeal decisions where successive inspectors had found no justification for its attempts to impose similar conditions.

Given the number of appeal decisions producing this result and the consistent lack of justification for imposing such conditions, he found compelling evidence that the council was, as a matter of general policy, seeking to prevent the operation of rights under class 14, schedule 3 of the Control of Advertisements (England) Regulations 2007 to display adverts after expiry of express consent. He considered such behaviour to be wholly unreasonable. In coming to this view, he disregarded the council's concern, introduced only at appeal stage, that the display could affect plans for the site’s future development.

Inspector: Alexander Walker; Written representations

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