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Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy DES 9 Advertisements

Policy DES 9 Advertisements
This policy has now been superseded by : PPS 17-Control of Outdoor Advertisements
To grant consent to display outdoor advertisements if the proposal does not adversely affect amenity or public safety.
Outdoor advertisements can play a vital role for both industrial and commercial enterprise. However the display of advertisements, at inappropriate and sensitive locations, can result in a loss of visual amenity and may constitute a danger to public safety.
All advertisements affect the appearance of the building, structure or place where they are displayed. A good building can contribute to a sense of pride and of place. However, its appearance or its setting can be spoiled by a poorly designed or insensitively placed sign or advertisement.
The main purpose of advertisement control is to ensure that outdoor advertising will contribute positively to the appearance of an attractive and cared-for environment.
Poster advertising will normally only be considered acceptable in predominantly commercial and industrial areas, where the character and the scale of the buildings are such as to accommodate the scale of this type of display, without adverse effect on visual amenity.
Small scale advertising may be appropriate in villages, depending on the character of the village and the relationship of the proposed display to surrounding buildings and the environment generally.
There will be a presumption against freestanding advertisement displays in villages, Conservation Areas and within the curtilage of listed buildings, and in residential areas, because of the impact on visual amenity and obstruction of views.
There will be a presumption against the general display of advertisements in the open countryside, in order to protect the unique quality of the rural landscape.
Exemptions to this presumption will be:
  • advertisements for which consent is deemed to be granted under the·Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations (NI) 1992; and
  • on-site advertisements for existing or approved commercial enterprises which may be considered acceptable, where they are small in scale and are judged not to detract from the quality of the local landscape.
Exceptionally consent may be given to applications for forward directional signs in the countryside advertising certain tourist attractions - see Policy TOU 5.
The display of outdoor advertisements will be controlled in the interests of amenity and public safety. In this context, amenity is defined as the effect upon the visual amenity of the immediate neighbourhood, where the advertisement is to be displayed. Public safety refers to the safety of people using any form of transport likely to be affected by the advertisement.
Applications for advertisement consent will be treated on their merits within the context of the policy requirements. Particular regard will be paid to the general characteristics of the locality in which the advertisement is to be sited.


The relevant amenity considerations in deciding whether or not to grant consent will be:
  • the need for the size, location, design and materials of the advertisement to respect the character of the locality and not be obtrusive or over-dominant;
  • the proximity to a residential area;
  • the number of existing signs in a locality or on a particular building and whether the proposals will create clutter or excessive advertising; and
  • in the case of an advertisement attached to buildings, the need to respect the scale of the building and its architecture. A sign or advertisement should be designed and positioned so as to be seen as an integral and not a dominant feature of the building.

Public Safety

The relevant public safety considerations in deciding whether or not to grant consent will include the need to ensure that:
  • an advertisement, which is proposed to be positioned close to a highway, road junction or traffic sign, does not obscure visibility or detract from the attention of users of the highway so as to create a traffic hazard;
  • the colours of an advertisement or its illumination does not obscure or reduce the clarity of any traffic sign; and
  • the size or positioning of any advertisement does not hinder the free passage of pedestrians.
When considering public safety factors, the Planning Service will consult with the relevant organisations who have an interest in the display. Advice will be given, by the Roads Service of the Department, for advertisements displayed alongside a road or within view from a motorway, or where the safety of people using the highway may be affected.

Planning Criteria

The criteria for considering advertising signs on commercial premises in towns and villages are:
  • all advertisements should normally be contained on the front elevation and below the level of the sills of the first floor windows;
  • advertisements should not normally intrude into the space between windows particularly if there is an existing fascia board;
  • where there is a separate business on the upper floors of a building, advertisements should be in the form of traditional simple lettering painted on windows;
  • shop fascia signs should be of an appropriate size, designed and sited sympathetically in relation to the shop front, the facade of the building and any detailing thereon; and
  • projecting signs should relate to the design of the building and should normally be located at fascia level. Normally only one sign will be permitted per fascia and this should not project excessively.
In Conservation Areas signs of the traditional hanging type indirectly illuminated by spotlight are generally preferable to an internally illuminated box sign. More practice on shop front design and floodlighting of buildings is given in Policy DES 2 and advertisements in Conservation Areas in Policy CON 5. The Department is considering more detailed design guidance on advertisements and signs for future publication.
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