A local council is attempting to introduce a permanent ban on estate and letting agents’ boards in almost two-thirds of a city’s streets - even though a supposedly temporary ban has actually been in effect since 1989.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is consulting on the proposal to make the ban permanent in the same area as now, and covering a similar number of listed buildings.
The council is now considering a report proposing the ban be made permanent from December 15 on the basis that agents' boards are "detrimental to the visual amenity of the area" visited by some four million tourists annually, bringing £500m-plus to the local economy.
"Given the significant numbers of apartments contained within such historic locations, the presence of numerous estate agent boards would significantly detract from the visual appearance of these areas," the report says.
It adds that the strength of the local housing market suggests there has been no adverse impact on agents’ marketing by the ban.
For the past 16 years a substantial swathe of Bath has been subject to regulation 7 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1992, preventing agents erecting boards within a large conservation area, although homes to let or for sale are allowed to display posters in windows. The local authority’s justification for this has been that “sale and letting boards would individually and collectively cause serious harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area and World Heritage site”.
A substantial number of agents are believed to be happy with the ban; in addition, some agents have voluntarily restricted their display of boards outside of the regulation 7 area to one-per-street, following complaints about the allegedly-detrimental visual effect of clusters of boards.