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Lettings Boards in Durham City consultation


Have your say on how Lettings Boards are displayed in Durham City.

Background

Lettings Board advertising is controlled nationally. This means that these boards can be displayed as long as they meet certain conditions. This is known as Deemed Consent.

In 2009 we introduced a Voluntary Code on Lettings Boards, this has been reviewed a number of times since. The Voluntary Code was intended to encourage landlords and agents to manage more considerately the way they display and use boards, and to avoid more formal controls, and covered the area of the Durham City conservation area.

Icon for pdf Durham City Conservation Area - Boundary Map (PDF, 765.5kb)

As the Voluntary Code is not compulsory there is no penalty for those that don't follow it. We receive a significant number of complaints each year where boards are displayed in breach of the code and this has become time consuming and expensive for us to try to follow up, with no formal ability to ensure compliance. 2016/17 has been particularly poor and we feel that we are now left with no tangible option other than to consider making an application to the Secretary of State  to remove Deemed Consent within the historic city. 

If we are successful in making such an application the controls would no longer be voluntary and rather all such advertisements would need formal consent.  It is considered that there would be a significant improvement in the character and appearance of these areas by bringing all such advertisements under formal planning control. 

What are we proposing?

Before we proceed, we would like to hear your views on the following three options:

Option 1 - continue with the current Voluntary Code

There would be no changes to the way that letting agents and landlords use Lettings Boards and it would require them to voluntarily follow the code. There would be no ability to use formal enforcement action if boards are displayed in breach of the code.

Option 2 - apply for a Regulation 7 with some restriction on letting boards

We would allow the display of some boards but the number and time of display would be restricted. The details of the restrictions would need to be agreed but it would be likely that they would broadly follow the principles of the current Voluntary Code. 

This option would allow some proportionate advertising and would enable formal enforcement control where boards were displayed in breach of the Regulation. 

It is likely that this option would prove difficult to enforce in terms of the number and times of display and whilst offering some improvements to the visual appearance of the city, it would still allow a significant number of boards at peak times of the year.

Option 3 - apply for a Regulation 7 with a complete ban

We would not permit the display of any Lettings Boards within the defined area, at any time, unless we have granted express consent.

Any unlawful displaying of Lettings Boards could result in formal enforcement proceedings.

A complete ban would be relatively easy to enforce and would result in a consistent approach to all affected agents and landlords. Removal of boards would have the most positive impact on the character and appearance of the historic city.

There may be some knock on impacts in terms of ease of letting properties, and landlords and agents may look to other forms of advertising (such as window vinyls) that are excluded from control. 

Have your say

We would like to hear your views before we determine how to move forward.

  • attend a drop-in event at the Town Hall, Market Place, Durham on 16 January 2017 between 3.30pm and 7.30pm where you can discuss the issues in more detail.
  • Lettings board consultation form

The closing date for comments is Friday 17 February 2017.

What happens to your feedback?

If we make an application to the Secretary of State, your views will form part of our evidence.

Contact us
Lettings Board consultation
03000 262 831
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