10.2.1Council recognises the potential benefits of outdoor advertising and the contribution they make to a vibrant and competitive economy. They can also enliven a street scene and add vibrancy to an area. However, if not managed appropriately, they can also have a significant detrimental impact on the character and appearance of an area. Consequently, an unrestricted approach to advertisements and business frontages could all too easily result in a cluttered, confusing and unattractive environment that has a negative effect on the perception of the locality. This in turn may deter tourists, visitors and investors and compromise the local economy.

10.2.2Shop fronts are becoming increasingly standardised and utilitarian in appearance, with many outlets opting for ‘house styles’ and ‘corporate logos’ and showing little appreciation for the proportions of the host buildings or the existing character of the area. Cumulatively, and in isolation, such unsympathetic advertisements can have a significant impact upon the visual appearance and functional appeal of our shopping streets.

10.2.3The increasing change to digital outdoor advertising is a relatively recent phenomenon. As the cost of digital technology continues to decline, there is likely to be increased demand for digital advertising including converting existing sites to digital. The introduction of this form of advertising has the potential to have a negative impact on our townscapes, particularly within our conservation areas and the historic environment. In Mid and East Antrim the character of our heritage assets has already been compromised through inappropriate signage in some locations. It is therefore important to protect our towns, villages, countryside and heritage assets from the potential adverse effects of inappropriate advertising.

10.2.4The SPPS sets out two regional strategic objectives (paragraph 6.56) for the control of advertisements and indicates that policies should be tailored to local circumstances, in particular to control advertisements which affect listed buildings, conservation areas and areas of townscape or village character. It further states that advertisements should respect the local area, not prejudice public safety including road safety and not detract from the unique qualities and amenity of the countryside.

Policy Aims

10.2.5The LDP strategic approach to the display of advertisements is set out in our policy aims. These policy aims fully embrace the above-mentioned regional strategic objectives and guidelines for LDPs set out in the SPPS. They also build on the key considerations informing the preferred options as set out in our POP.

  • To ensure that advertisements do not detract from the place where it is to be displayed or its surroundings;
  • To ensure that all outdoor advertisements respect amenity and do not prejudice public safety, including road safety;
  • To prevent clutter, and adequately control signs involving illumination and digital advertising screens;
  • To protect our historic environment and heritage assets from the potential adverse effects of advertising; and
  • To ensure that advertisements do not detract from the character and amenity of our countryside.

Policy AD1 The Control of Advertisements

For the purposes of this policy advertisements are defined as any word, letter, model, sign, placard, board, notice, awning, blind, device or representation, whether illuminated or not, and employed wholly or partly for the purpose of advertisement, announcement or direction.

All Advertisements

When assessing applications for consent for the display of an advertisement, Council will refuse consent where:

  1. the cumulative effect of a number of advertisements on a property or within a locality result in advertising clutter;
  2. the effect of any illumination used on the advertisement, particularly on the locality or a neighbouring property, is detrimental to amenity;
  3. the advertisement does not respect the overall design of the property, particularly in circumstances where the property retains its original design or architectural features;
  4. the advertisement may cause driver distraction or obstruct vision;
  5. the advertisement may obstruct or impede pedestrian access or pedestrian flow; or
  6. the advertisement would unacceptably detract from the quality and character of our countryside.
Advertisements and Heritage Assets

When assessing applications for consent for the display of an advertisement which affects a heritage asset or its setting, Council will have regard to the following considerations;

  1. advertisements on a listed building will only be acceptable if they are carefully designed and positioned to respect and retain the buildings existing architectural detail59.
  2. advertisements within or close to a conservation area will only acceptable where they would not adversely affect the overall character, appearance or setting of the area.
  3. advertisements within an Area of Townscape Character will only be acceptable where the overall character and appearance of the area is maintained.
  4. where it is physically affixed to a heritage asset, it does not cause irreparable damage and is reversible.
  5. consent will not be granted for internally illuminated advertisements within the historic environment and associated heritage assets.
Digital Advertising Screens

Consent for the display of a digital advertising screen will not be granted in any of the following circumstances:

  1. when they are positioned above ground floor level;
  2. when they are located within or adjacent to a conservation area, Area of Townscape Character, or on a listed building or within the setting of a listed building;
  3. when they are located within primary residential areas;
  4. when they are located within the open countryside, or within parks and public open spaces; or
  5. when the display contains moving images.

However, in-curtilage petrol brand totem pole signs which may include an element of digital advertising will be permitted where the proposal meets criteria a) - k) opposite.

Justification and Amplification

10.2.6Advertisements and signs should be designed to be complementary to and preserve the character of the host building and amenity of the local area. It is also important that they do not prejudice public safety. Poorly sited or badly designed advertisements and signs, including projecting signs, and illumination, particularly flashing illumination, can have a detrimental effect on the character and appearance of areas and may raise issues of public safety.

10.2.7A large number of advertisements on a building or along a road can create clutter and be disruptive to the appearance and character of an area. When preparing designs for new signage or advertisements, the opportunity should be taken to rationalise the number of signs on a building or in an area and remove those which are redundant or considered excessive.

10.2.8In assessing the impact of an advertisement or sign on amenity, Council will take into account all of the following matters:

  • The effect the advertisement will have on the general characteristics of the area, including the presence of any features of historic, archaeological, architectural, landscape, cultural or other special interest.
  • The position of the advertisement on the host building and its scale and size in relation to that building.
  • The cumulative effect of the proposal when read with other advertisements on the building or in the surrounding area and whether the proposal will result in clutter.
  • The size, scale, dominance and siting of the advertisement in relation to the scale and characteristics of the surrounding area.
  • The design and materials of the advertisement, or the structure containing the advertisement, and its impact on the appearance of the building on which it is to be attached.
  • In the case of a freestanding sign, the design and materials of the structure and its impact on the appearance and character of the area where it is to be located.
  • The impact of the advertisement, including its size, scale and levels of illumination, on the amenities of people living nearby and the potential for light pollution.

10.2.9Advertisements will not be considered acceptable where they impact upon public safety, including situations where they:

  • obstruct or impair sight lines to road users at junctions and corners;
  • disrupt the safety or free flow of pedestrian movement
  • reduce the effectiveness of a traffic sign or signal; or
  • result in glare or otherwise distract road users;

10.2.10The choice between a contemporary or traditional approach to signage on heritage assets will depend upon the significance of the heritage asset, the scale and architecture of the building and the character of the area. Most importantly, all advertisements should be designed and constructed to a high quality and the palette of materials and finishes kept simple.

10.2.11New signs or advertisements can have a detrimental impact on the appearance and special architectural interests of a listed building. Proposals to display signs or advertisements on a listed building should be designed to complement and respect the age and architectural style of the building and be carefully located so as to not obscure, overlap or cut into any architectural detailing or structural divisions of the building. These considerations will to a large extent dictate the scale of any signage. In many cases a handwritten timber board or a brass plate will provide the most acceptable solution. The use of standard corporate signage is considered inappropriate and will not be granted consent. Where a listed building forms part of a uniform or cohesive group, the Council will expect advertisements to reflect that uniformity or cohesiveness. Many listed buildings are in commercial use and display signs or advertisements that are of historic interest or of some artistic quality. Where this is the case Council will not permit their removal or significant alteration.

10.2.12In most situations signs and advertisements displayed on listed buildings should not be illuminated. Where illumination is justified it should be achieved unobtrusively, light fittings mounted above and projecting forward of the sign will not be acceptable. Additional guidance on the display of Advertisements on Listed Buildings and/or State Care Monuments and Scheduled Monuments can be obtained from the DfC Historic Environment Division.

10.2.13Some of our conservation areas include commercial areas where a range of advertisements is to be expected. Council accepts that such outdoor advertising is essential to commercial activity, but in view of the statutory duty within conservation areas to preserve or where possible enhance its character, it is considered reasonable that more exacting standards of advertisement control should apply within such areas. Consent will therefore not be granted for advertisements which are inappropriate to the architectural style or character of the building on which it is proposed, or which adversely affect the overall character, appearance or setting of the area.

10.2.14In assessing the impact of an advertisement within or adjacent to a conservation area or ATC, particular regard will be paid to the materials used, scale, size, proportions, dominance and siting of the sign, whether it is illuminated and if it would result in clutter. An advertisement should respect the building onto which it is to be fixed and have regard to any architectural detailing. Similarly, signage on the upper floors of buildings and the internal illumination of signs will not be acceptable. Proposals for large advertisement hoardings or which would result in a proliferation of signs which can seriously harm the character and appearance of a conservation area will therefore be refused consent. Proposals for electronic or digital screens can seriously harm the character and appearance of our heritage assets. The proposed introduction of an electronic or digital screen on or within the setting of a listed building, within or adjacent to a conservation area or ATC will be refused consent. Projecting signs can often adversely affect the appearance and character of listed buildings or the appearance of a conservation area or ATC and will therefore require very careful consideration. Where their presence is considered acceptable particular attention will be paid to size, design and materials.

10.2.15The amenity and character of the countryside is particularly important and must be protected from the negative effects of advertising. Businesses located in the countryside expect to be able to advertise their whereabouts. However, Council will require that signs are designed and sited to harmonise with their setting, and that a proliferation of individually acceptable advertisements does not spoil the appearance and rural character of the open countryside. The only advertisements likely to be considered acceptable in the countryside are those proposed on site and which directly relate to an existing or approved commercial enterprise. These should be small in scale, have no form of illumination or be electronic, and should not detract from the quality and character of the local landscape.

10.2.16Additional guidance for the display of advertisements in particular conservation areas is set out in the relevant Design Guides and Appendix K of this document.

  • 59 - The display of any advertisement on a listed building will also require an application for listed building consent.

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