Advertising boards and display of goods on the highway

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council recognises that there is a desire by many shop owners and businesses to advertise or place goods on the highway to help promote and encourage trade.  The Council also recognises that in certain circumstances the display of goods outside premises can create an ambience that is both stimulating and attractive to shoppers and the local community.  The council wishes to encourage traders to promote their business activities in a way which both enhances the street scene and is sensitive to the needs of highway users.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council endeavours to protect the rights of the public to be able to use and enjoy the highway network within its control.  This Code of Conduct has been produced with the aim of striking a reasonable balance between the needs of the user and those wishing to place advertising signs or displays of goods on the highway.  By adopting this Code of Conduct it will not be necessary for traders to apply for licences to place or display these items, but their co-operation in observing and abiding by the conditions of this code will be essential.

For many years advertising boards and goods on the highway have been a part of the street scene in Blackburn with Darwen and not all of them constitute wilful obstruction.  But it is important that their numbers, size and positioning are regulated.  If not they can become unreasonable and create severe hazards for highway users, particularly those with impaired vision, mobility problems, the elderly and those with young children.

It is important to remember that all advertising boards or displays of goods on the highway are obstructions, however those displayed in accordance with the conditions set within this code will be acceptable to the authority.  Items placed outside these conditions may be viewed as unreasonable and could be subject to the procedures described in section 6.

If this Code is not successful it may be replaced by a stricter enforcement policy or a more restrictive statutory licensing regime involving an annual charge.

Legal background

Under Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980, a highway authority has the power to immediately remove from a highway pavement anything which it reasonably considers constitutes a danger to highway users and ought to be removed without delay. It can also recover the costs of doing so.

Under Section 137 of the same Act, a highway authority can prosecute any person who obstructs the free passage of the highway pavement. Section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 states that it is an offence to place goods for sale on a footway.

This Code of Conduct aims to minimise the need for exercising these powers; however compliance does not guarantee that all advertising boards and displays will be lawful.

Although Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council aims to permit A-boards and shop displays that do comply, it may be obliged to take enforcement action in certain circumstances. If this happens fair warning shall be given before any action is taken. Obstructions which do not comply with the Code will be liable to prompt enforcement action.

General conditions

The following conditions apply to both the placing of advertising boards and the display of goods on the highway and must be met in all cases in addition to the specific conditions which relate to advertising boards or displays.

Advertising Boards (‘A’ Boards) and Display of Goods

  • must be sited immediately adjacent to the frontage of the property.
  • must be temporary in their nature so that they can be easily removed from the highway and must not have a detrimental affect on the fabric of the highway.  No excavation will be allowed to facilitate installation or removal.
  • must leave an unobstructed footway width of 1.8m. In a very busy street it may be necessary to leave more than 1.8m of footway space for highway users. In pedestrianised areas the minimum width is 3.5 metres to ensure a route is available for emergency vehicles.
  • may not be allowed in areas of high volume pedestrian flow, e.g. near schools or in certain pedestrianised areas.
  • must not cause a visual distraction or obstruction to vehicle sight lines or block visibility for pedestrians.
  • must when being placed give consideration to their proximity to bus stops, pedestrian crossing points and any works ongoing on the highway.
  • must be such that they can easily be detected by the visually impaired and negotiated by those with restricted mobility.
  • must be stable and fit for purpose and not pose a potential danger to any highway user.
  • must be totally removed at the end of the days trading.
  • will be the owner’s responsibility when placed in the public highway and the person who placed them will be liable if a third party is injured as a result of the signs or goods.  The council will not be liable for any injury or damage caused to highway users.
  • will not be permitted on the carriageway.

The decision as to whether or not the above conditions require varying in individual cases, e.g. more than 1.8m width left in busy areas, will be made by the Highway Network Manager.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council as the Highway Authority may require the immediate removal of any sign or display of goods:

  • if requested by a Police Officer
  • if they are causing a danger
  • to allow for access to services or maintenance to the highway
  • for any other reasonable request.

It is strongly advised that public liability insurance cover for a minimum of 2 million pounds is held by traders to cover any third party claims.

In addition, nothing within this code absolves those concerned from their legal responsibilities under the Highways Act 1980, New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 or any other relevant legislation or codes of practice.

Advertising boards

The following conditions apply specifically to the placing of free standing advertisement signs/boards.

  • Only one sign, board etc will be allowed per premise even where in multi-occupation.
  • Any advertisement must relate only to the normal business of the trading establishment.
  • Any advertisement should not be offensive or distasteful
  • Any advertising signs/boards must not be fixed to lamp posts, bollards, street signs, seats or other items of street furniture.
  • Signs should be no wider than 800mm square in plan and no higher than 1000mm above ground level.
  • Rotating or swinging signs will not be permitted
  • All signs must be presented in a professional manner

Display of goods

The following conditions apply specifically to the display of goods.

  • All goods must be presented in a professional manner and placed on suitably constructed displays that are fit for purpose.
  • The display must relate to the normal business of the trading establishment.
  • Must be no wider than a third of the available footway width up to a maximum of 2.0m.
  • No selling or trading will be permitted upon the highway.  All transactions must take place within the trading establishment.

Deliveries are not covered by these conditions.  All deliveries must be removed from the highway as soon as possible.

This guidance does not cover street markets, fetes, etc. which are regulated by the Town Centre Management Team.

This guidance does not cover any requirements or permissions that must be met under environmental health legislation.  It is strongly recommended that the council’s environmental health department is consulted before displaying goods on the highway.

Removal process for advertising signs and displays of goods

Following complaints, or as part of routine inspection, any obstruction that is deemed ‘unreasonable’ in accordance with this guide and constitutes an immediate danger will be removed from the highway immediately and either returned to the owner, if known and practicable, or retained.

Where obstructions are ‘unreasonable’, but do not constitute an immediate danger, the owner will be requested to remove or reposition them in accordance with the guide. If the problem persists the Highway Authority may serve notice that the objects be removed before eventually seeking a Magistrate’s removal and disposal order in respect of the items.

Any items removed from the highway will be taken to store and retained for collection by the owner. If the items are not collected within 14 days for advertising boards or non perishable goods and 7 days for perishable goods they will be disposed of accordingly.

The Highway Authority may seek to recharge any expenses incurred in removing such items to their owners.

Further information

The purpose of this code of conduct is to give practical guidance and advice to those placing advertising signs/boards or displaying goods on the highway.

It does not cover the following activities on the highway for which other licences or permits are required:

  • The erection of scaffolding/hoarding
  • The placing of builders skips
  • Depositing builder’s materials
  • The provision of pavement café areas and other highway amenities
  • Street trading
  • Fly posting
  • Signs for housing developments

The success of this code of conduct is reliant on the co-operation of all interested parties.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough council reserves the right to modify, alter or amend this code of conduct without notice and as it sees fit to ensure that all who use the highway can do so safely and without undue inconvenience so far as is reasonable and practicable.

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