Local residents can oppose new advertising billboards and screens at the planning application stage before they are built.

This is our quick guide to opposing planning applications for new billboards in your area:

  1. Make a formal objection to the planning application (see below).
  2. Ask your neighbours and friends to object too. The more people that object the better.
  3. Write to your local councillors to let them know your views on outdoor advertising and the change you want to see. Be sure to include your postcode so they know you’re a resident of their ward.

Objecting to Planning Applications

Planning Applications should appear on the local council planning portals. (e.g Bristol City Council Planning Portal , Leeds City Council Planning Portal, or Hackney Borough Planning Portal). Search [Name of Council] Planning Portal to find yours.

Once you have found your local planning portal, search current planning applications using key words like ‘advertisement’, ‘advert’, ‘digital’ or ‘display’.

Local authority planning portals differ in appearance – some are more user-friendly than others. A recent planning application will usually have the year at the start of the planning reference number. E.g In this planning application reference number 20/03375/ADV refers to the year 2020. Some Council websites also allow you to register to receive email updates on recent planning applications.

Under current planning rules, there are two key legal arguments to include in objections to new billboards:  

1. Harm to safety – e.g. a big illuminated screen with changing images would pose a danger to car drivers and others on and around the road.

2. Harm to amenity – this is harder to define, but it broadly means that the proposal doesn’t fit with the character, feel and function of the area.

It is worth including other arguments you have to show the depth of feeling – but safety and amenity are the legal grounds with which planning applications for new advertising hoardings can be rejected.

Anyone can and should object to new billboard applications – often they sneak through local planning processes unnoticed. Get your friends in the area to object.  The more objections the better – but especially if you live in the council area. You could also say how you use the area e.g you live there, or you cycle, walk or commute to work regularly past the proposed site.

Please let us know about planning applications you object to, and any responses you get from your local councillors.

For more details on how to stop billboards where you live, download our guide to preventing new advertising sites in your community through the planning system: