Rules and Regulations for Construction Site Hoarding Graphics

by Shannell Davies
on 24th May 2018

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While construction hoardings can be left blank, their large surface area and high visibility makes them natural candidates for outdoor advertising, helping to promote the construction firm behind the project or the intended outcome for the structure being built. This can be a highly effective form of marketing, but hoarding graphics are subject to a number of local and national rules and regulations.

These aren’t the same as the requirements for the construction of a hoarding, which focus more on public safety, but instead are rooted in the visual design and practical display of the adverts used…

Do you need planning permission for hoarding graphics?

The honest answer is that it depends.

According to the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007 (the current ruling legislation), hoarding graphics qualify for what’s referred to as ‘deemed consent’. Adverts with deemed consent are divided into different classes, each with their own criteria for approval – if these criteria are met then no prior planning permission from the local authority is needed.

However, there are certain situations when ‘deemed consent’ doesn’t apply. If your hoarding is to be situated in any National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Area, the Broads, or an Area of Special Control of Advertisements, you’ll need to apply for express consent from the local authority.

Hoarding graphics can also only benefit from ‘deemed consent’ if they are for construction sites being developed for commercial, industrial, or business use – graphics for residential sites always require consent.

Crossrail hoarding graphics at Paddington

What are the regulations for construction site hoarding graphics?

In the Town and Country Planning Regulations, ‘advertisements on hoardings around temporary construction sites’ (in other words, hoarding graphics) are known as ‘class 8’ advertisements, and don’t need planning permission provided the following guidelines are met:

  • The hoarding graphics must not be on display for more than 3 months prior to construction on the site taking place.
  • The hoarding graphics must not be more than 38 square metres in area
  • The hoarding graphics must not be placed more than 4.6 metres above ground level.
  • The hoarding graphics must not be displayed for more than 3 years consecutively.
  • Written notification of the intent to display hoarding advertising must be given to the local authority, along with a detailed copy of the planning permission for the site, at least 14 days before the advert is first displayed.

Hoarding graphics are also subject to five criteria that all outdoor advertisements must abide. These are:

  • The advertisement must be kept clean and tidy
  • The advertisement must be kept in a safe condition
  • Permission of the owner of the site on which advertisements are to be displayed must be granted (this includes the Highway Authority if the sign is to be placed on highway land)
  • The advertisements must not obscure, or hinder the interpretation of, official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport
  • The advertisement must be removed carefully where so required by the planning authority.

Picture of Hoarding Graphics for Clearview Homes at night

Can a hoarding graphic be illuminated?

Within reason, yes. The Town and Country Planning Regulations allow for hoarding advertisements to be illuminated if done so in a way that’s reasonably required for the advertisement to be viewed correctly. In other words, if the design of your graphic requires illumination in order for it to be seen properly, you don’t need to obtain prior permission to do so.

So what should I do?

If it seems like this is all a little bit complicated, that’s because essentially, it is. Knowing whether or not your hoarding graphic qualifies for deemed consent, and understanding what local restrictions apply can be a daunting prospect, which is why it’s often sensible to apply for planning permission – regardless of the situation.

It’s a good idea to approach the awarding authority before putting any plans together. If your graphic does qualify for class 8 ‘deemed consent’, the local authority will simply let you know. If not, they’ll be able to explain their own restrictions and requirements to help you draw up your plans.

Why should you apply for planning permission for your hoarding graphics?

If your graphic doesn’t pass local regulations, and you display it anyway, it can create financial and logistical problems. The advert will need to be removed, and potentially redesigned and reprinted. Hoarding graphic printing is something that will need to be factored into your budget and plan, and having to go through the process twice is never ideal.

Who do you apply to for hoarding graphic approval?

The specific body you apply to for approval of an outdoor advertisement varies from area to area, but it will usually be the local County Council, District Council, or if your construction site is in London, then the relevant Borough Council.

How do you apply for planning permission for a hoarding graphic?

There are a few stages that go into obtaining planning permission for your hoarding graphic designs, and there are a number of things you’ll need to supply the council or local awarding authority with prior to applying for approval. Broadly speaking, the application process might look a little like this:

1. Speak to the council, to determine any restrictions that are in place:

This isn’t a legal requirement, but it could save you potential problems and additional administration. Even if you think you’re sure, ask the council for information on whether or not deemed consent applies, and if they have any specific guidelines or criteria for hoarding advertising.

2. Draw up the plans for your graphics

Once you’ve determined the necessary criteria and any restrictions that might apply, you’ll need to draw up the actual designs of your graphics. If you’re using an agency or freelance designer for this, be sure to make them aware of any requirements the council have (which could include font sizes etc.)

3. Put together your proposal

The council will need some detailed information to process your application, and your proposal will need to cover some specific areas of focus. You’ll need to provide the following:

  • Plans displaying the proposed location of the graphics. The scale these are drawn to will need to be specified, the compass orientation marked, and at least 2 roads should be referenced by name.
  • Information and details on any illumination – the number of lights, how bright they are etc.
  • A visual representation of how your advertisement will look, including its height above ground, projection, size, and overall appearance – this could be through a photomontage, digitally rendered mockups, or artist impressions.

4. Obtain and fill in your planning permission application form

Once you have assembled all of the necessary, you’ll need to obtain and fill out your planning permission application form. This can be done either electronically or in a hard copy.

5. Pay the necessary fee, and eagerly await the decision

Yes, like many council and local governmental processes, a fee applies for planning permission applications. Another reason why getting things right in the first place is important.

You can sometimes monitor the progress of your application on the council’s website, and the decision usually takes up to 8 weeks to process. A representative from the council will visit your site, to ensure the information you have supplied is accurate, and once a decision has been reached you will be notified of the reasons for approval or denial.

6. Appeal, if your application is refused

Should your application be turned down, you can simply amend your proposals and resubmit within 12 months, which won’t incur a further fee. If, however, you believe the refusal of the council to be unfair or unjustified, you can appeal to the Secretary of State within 8 weeks.

Advice and procedure on how to appeal will be included in your decision notice; in the UK appeals are handled by and inspector from the Planning Inspectorate.

What kind of hoarding graphics get refused planning permission?

While the specifics of legislation do vary from council to council, there are some overarching guidelines that tend to apply more uniformly. Generally speaking, any advertisements that involve heavy or aggressive marketing will be declined. Bold, harsh colours that don’t fit into the surrounding aesthetic, as well as large text displaying websites or QR codes are likely to be turned down.

Construction site hoarding graphics

What kind of hoarding graphics tend to get approved by local councils?  

Typically, local authorities such as county councils want to ensure the natural character and visual quality of the land under their jurisdiction is preserved. As such, the kinds of graphics and designs that tend to get approved take these factors into consideration, and make an effort to assimilate into the area without causing aesthetic damage.

Graphics that take into account local surroundings in terms of colour, and make an effort to complement the aesthetic of the local area, are more likely to be approved. The key takeaway here is consideration: campaigns that get approval without hindrance tend to preempt likely caveats and accommodate them.


PressOn provide a comprehensive consultation service for the printing of your hoarding graphics, and if you have any questions in this regard don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our upcoming guide to appropriate hoarding graphic design will also go into more detail, so stay tuned!

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Written by
Shannell Davies Senior Project Manager