Imposing illuminated advertisements adorning the sides of office blocks are an ever-increasing feature of modern cityscapes – but they can pose a particular challenge for planners. The Court of Appeal gave guidance on the issue in ruling that LED signs displayed within a prominent building must be removed.

By virtue of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007, the signs were deemed to have the local authority’s consent because they were located inside the building. However, they were visible over a long distance and the council issued a discontinuance notice on the basis that they caused substantial injury to the amenity of the locality.

In later rejecting the building owner’s challenge to that decision, a planning inspector found that the extremely prominent moving displays were overly large, dominant and incongruous. They could be seen from three conservation areas and from the settings of a number of listed buildings. Local residents had also complained of being disturbed by their flashing effect. The inspector’s decision was subsequently upheld by a judge.

In dismissing the company’s challenge to the latter ruling, the Court rejected its plea that the discontinuance notice was draconian in its effect. Although it terminated the deemed consent, it did not prevent the company from seeking the council’s express consent for alternative advertising displays on the site. The inspector’s factual conclusions and exercise of her planning judgment were unassailable.

For help and advice on matters such as this please contact Sundeep Bilkhu, s.bilkhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk on 0808 166 8827.

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