A London Labour council has won draconian powers to effectively ban For Sale and To Let boards in several parts of its borough.
Camden council already prohibited the display of the boards in six conservation areas; now, under new powers granted to the council last month by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, it can - in its words - “significantly extend the controls to cover all conservation areas and our town centres.”
That means agent boards cannot be displayed in conservation areas and all town centres unless advertisement consent is obtained.
“We are delighted that we have been successful in gaining additional powers to restrict estate agent boards which are often eyesores, adding unnecessary clutter to our streets” says councillor Danny Beales, whose title at the council is ‘Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities and an Inclusive Economy.'
“Across the borough there are examples of estate agents disregarding the regulations, displaying numerous boards per building and keeping them up for months, if not years, despite properties being sold or let” he says.
“The proposals were supported by the vast majority who responded to our consultation. The removal of these boards has previously taken up valuable council resources and I look forward to these additional controls having a positive impact on streets across the borough.”
The regulation 7 direction of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisement) Regulations 2007, which has now been granted to the council by the MHCLG, removes the rights granted by general advertisement regulations for the display of estate agents boards without the need for advertisement consent.
The effectiveness and appearance of For Sale and To Let boards has been a hot topic within the industry for some years, although few councils have actually sought the enhanced powers to make the boards subject to planning consent.
At the end of last year Christopher May, director of free-to-list portal Residential People, urged agents to forget about spending money on boards and instead put the cash into digital strategies.
"For Sale and To Let boards may be good for brand awareness, but unlike online marketing, boards less likely to generate leads beyond the local area” explains May.
Disputes between agents, involving stealing boards, has become a rarity although in the past it was commonplace.
Last year Manor Estate Agents, based just outside Glasgow, contacted police after 26 of its boards has disappeared in some eight months.