Is Planning Permission Necessary in Order to Get a Pavement Sign?

Do you already have a pavement sign that you’ve purchased or are you interested in buying one soon but are not sure about what the legislation is involved. One common query that’s asked is what planning permission involved and required from local authorities when you need to display pavement signs on the outside of premises. In the following post we are going to discuss this query and look at what is involved in so-called ‘responsible use’ of high street signs.

What is ‘Responsible Use of Pavement Signs?

One of the most commonly found signs around towns and city centres is pavement signs, which are often referred to as sidewalk signs or A-boards. They are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes but tend to have the same general application – entice, direct and inform anyone that passes by them. They are used by restaurants, pubs and a dizzying variety of shops. There is a balance that needs to be in place in the UK, as far as local authorities are concerned. They are interested in obviously keeping the pavements as safe as possible for people walking along them, but also businesses to continue staying afloat through economic and commerce uncertainty.

Do You Need Planning Permission or Approval from Local Authorities to Use A-Board?

We’d love to give you a direct and to the point answer, but the truth is that we can’t. There are several factors that determine whether you need permission or not. Now there is no policy concerning pavement signs such as A-Boards used throughout the country as all local authorities have their own guidelines and the terms and conditions are constantly changing. Therefore, it’s vital that you check with your own local council or authority. As a rule of thumb though, if you intend on placing an A-Board pavement sign somewhere on a public highway, permission or approval will be required.

However, if you are using either an A-Board or sandwich board on your own property, whether it’s in the forecourt or terrace at the front of your café or shop, you essentially have permission on the provisory that there’s no problems with Highways England, the Welsh Government or Transport Scotland. You will find that there are further exceptions though, depending on if the pavement sign is illuminated or not. Again, this is something you will need to check with the local authority that oversees your area.

Although councils will all have their own specific guidelines and conditions, there are some common issues that you may have to think about, such as:

  • Some local authorities are only keen to allow signs that provide information rather than just signs that say things like ‘Huge Sale’ or similar.
  • Are passers-by and pedestrians going to be at risk or inconvenienced by your sign? Especially if they are wheelchair-bound or partially sighted.
  • Is it likely that your sign will cause a distraction or obstruction that draws pedestrians and road user’s attention from important signals, signs on the highway?
  • Could the sign distract people using the highway as a result of it being away and possibly onto the road?
  • Is the sign in properly maintained and in good working condition?
  • Will it have a detrimental effect on the aesthetics of the village, town or city?
  • Is the property you are placing the sign in front of a listed building?
  • Is the property you are placing the sign on a conservation area?

Public Indemnity Insurance Coverage for Pavement Signs

Although it might sound a little bizarre, an important aspect of looking after and using a pavement sign that you need to make sure you sort out is investing in public indemnity liability insurance. With this you will be protected if, in the worst-case scenario, a pedestrian or passer-by is injured because of your sign. For instance, if they trip and fall or bump into it or if it falls and hits them. In any of these situations it really does pay to have suitable insurance coverage., Many local authorities require proof of having public indemnity insurance before they will grant people permission to have signs up.

As councils will always look to the safety of pedestrians ahead of anything else, you need to take a responsible approach when using an A-board as a marketing tool for your restaurant or shop. Check if you need permission or not, apply for it and wait until you receive it before erecting your sign.

Read more: How to make the best use of pavement signs

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