A council cracking down on the increase of illegally positioned estate agent boards.
Agents are required, under Planning and Highways legislation to place boards only within the boundary of the property and also to remove them within 14 days of a property being sold or let.
In 2019, Harlow council in Essex agreed a code of conduct with estate agents based in the town to ensure compliance with the regulations.
But it now claims this has frequently been ignored and the sight of large numbers of boards across Harlow is - in its words - “blighting the environment.”
Now the council has written to all estate agents within the town to inform them that it will be withdrawing from the code of conduct.
Instead it will now be pursuing a policy of enforcement using the legal tools available to it including the removal of boards and, where appropriate, the use of Fixed Penalty Notices.
Councillor Alastair Gunn, portfolio holder for environment, says: “The growth of illegal advertising boards in the town has become unacceptable and is an issue that residents frequently raise complaints about. We will now take strong action to ensure regulations are complied with.
“We support the work that local estate agents are doing to drive the local property market and stimulate growth and will work with estate agents who operate within the law.
“However, we will take action against those who have no respect for the environment and blatantly flout the regulations.”
This is not the first time boards have been in the news.
In 2019 a London council, Camden, sought government backing for a borough-wide Section 7 direction - effectively banning all agents’ boards being erected without first securing planning consent. The council claimed it had received over 1,000 complaints about For Sale and To Let boards over the previous five years.
And Camden council - along with nearby London boroughs Southwark and Lewisham - issued fixed penalty notices in 2018 and 2019 too on some agencies.
Some areas like Brighton & Hove council have had limited bans on boards in some locations - typically conservation areas - since 2010, with a £1,000 penalty for agencies breaking the rules.