Planning Portal

PPS 17: Control of Outdoor Advertisements
Annex A: Signs on Commercial Premises

18. Signs and advertisements on commercial premises are important in announcing the presence of a business in the street and in directing customers to that location, and can assist the vibrancy of our city and town centres and other commercial areas. When sympathetically sited and designed they can contribute positively to the distinctive visual amenity of an area by giving a sense of quality and permanence.
19. The most common signs on commercial premises are fascia signs and projecting signs, either box or hanging. Their design should always complement the design of the shopfront and building and respect the wider locality. An excessive number of signs or those which are too large can dramatically affect the premises on which they are sited and have an adverse impact on the general character of the area.

Fascia Signs

Design Guidelines
  • fascia signs should be of an appropriate size, and sited and designed to harmonise with the shop front, the façade of the building and any detailing thereon;
  • where there is an original fascia, the sign should make use of this with generally no advertising at sub-fascia level or on pilasters or columns;
  • where a new commercial building is proposed, the location of fascia signage should be integrated into the overall design.
  • on older and more traditionally styled buildings, painted signs or non-illuminated letters are preferable to panels or other types of display;
  • internal illumination should preferably be in the form of individually backlit letters; and
  • where external illumination is proposed, trough lighting is preferred. The trough should extend over the whole fascia and be painted to integrate it into the whole display.

Projecting Signs

Design Guidelines:
  • projecting signs should be sympathetic to the design of the building where they are to be displayed and respect fascia signage;
  • box signs should be located at fascia level and are generally best situated at the end of the fascia;
  • hanging signs may be acceptable at first floor level and are generally best situated in a central position between windows;
  • to reduce visual clutter a projecting sign will generally only be acceptable where there is no other projecting advertisement such as a canopy, awning, flag or horizontal banner;
  • internal illumination should preferably be in the form of individually backlit letters;
  • where external illumination is proposed trough lighting is preferred with the trough painted out;
  • projecting signs should generally project no more than 1 metre including fixings, with a maximum end width of no more than 0.1m in the case of a box sign;
  • projecting signs should be a minimum of 2.25m above ground level in the interests of public safety; and
  • illuminated projecting signs are generally unacceptable immediately adjacent to a neighbouring residential property.

Blinds and Awnings

20. Originally the function of blinds was to protect perishable goods from deterioration due to strong sunlight. Today however blinds, awnings and canopies are increasingly used as a means to provide additional advertising.
21. Blinds that are well designed can improve the attractiveness of a building or street. Poorly designed or prominently located blinds or canopies displaying advertising can however detract from the appearance of buildings, the surrounding neighbourhood, and can result in clutter. They are particularly obtrusive when located above windows on upper floors and should be avoided.
Design Guidelines:
  • blinds and awnings should be retractable, made from non-reflective material and be designed to integrate with the appearance and construction of the shopfront as a whole; and
  • such blinds should be a minimum of 2.25m above ground level in the interests of public safety.

Advertisements on Upper Floors

22. Where commercial premises occupy the upper floors of buildings the need to advertise their whereabouts can be important to their viability. Great care needs to be taken in considering how this can be achieved without the exterior of the building appearing cluttered.
23. Fascia signs, panel style signs, canopies, flags and banners are generally out of place on upper floors.
Design Guidelines
advertising on upper floors should be printed or etched onto the glass or on to internal window blinds. As an alternative, individual letters rather than an advertisement panel may be suspended behind the glass.
24. These guidelines also apply to commercial premises on ground floors wishing to advertise on upper floors.

High Level Signs

25. High level signs generally relate to those vertical or horizontal signs on the walls of tall, single use buildings such as hotels. If not treated with great sensitivity they have the potential to give the appearance of clutter within the local street scene and be obtrusive and dominant over long distances particularly when located on roofs.
Design Guidelines:
  • high level signs will generally only be appropriate where they relate to the scale and primary use of the host building;
  • they should be designed to be read as part of the building and should not detract from any architectural feature;
  • they should not project above the eaves or parapet of the host building; and
  • they should have only the lettering illuminated.

Offices in Former Residential Properties

26. In predominantly residential areas, where offices occupy part or all of a former residential property, it is essential that advertising remains unobtrusive in order that the residential amenity of the area is not prejudiced. Even in situations where offices occupy a row of former residential properties it will generally still be important to retain the overall residential appearance of the area. A more flexible approach will however be considered in those areas where, through ongoing change, surroundings have become mainly commercial.
Design Guidelines
  • the advertisement of offices in former residential properties should be by means of nameplates made of metal or other suitable materials and should be fixed to the doorway pilaster, or if there is no pilaster, they may be fixed to the masonry beside the front door; and
  • painted or etched lettering on a front window will also generally be acceptable.
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