Advertisements decision held procedurally sound

An inspector's decision to uphold a discontinuance notice directed against illuminated advertisements at a building in west London was not legally flawed, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The appellants had secured deemed consent under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 to display illuminated advertisements inside a building on the banks of the Thames. The local planning authority considered that the building occupied a prominent position and the display of two advertisements behind the windows caused substantial injury to the area’s amenity.

An inspector upheld the notice, concluding that discontinuance action under regulation 8(1)(b) was necessary given the building’s location and orientation and the impact on the setting of two conservation areas. A High Court challenge to this decision led Mr Justice Ouseley to confirm that the inspector had given adequate reasons for her decision and was under no obligation to consider whether hypothetical alternatives to the two advertisements would mitigate the harm to local amenity.

The Court of Appeal reviewed the scope of regulation 8(1)(b) and confirmed that it did not require councils or inspectors to consider whether some reduced or alternative form of advertisement would cause no substantial injury to amenity. The focus was upon the advertisements in question, Lord Justice Coulson ruled. The discontinuance notice, he reasoned, did not prevent the appellants from applying for express consent for other advertisements. of whatever form, nor did the council’s action indicate that no form of advertising would be allowed.

Neither the council nor the inspector were obliged to satisfy themselves that every other conceivable form of advertisement that might be displayed at the site would also cause substantial harm, the court ruled. The regulations did not require this and it would be unworkable in practice, it held. Nor did it agree that the council’s action was draconian.

Putney Bridge Approach Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

Date: 19 October 2018

Ref: [2018] EWCA Civ 2268

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