How to Get Planning Permission for Signs on Buildings

When you hear the words “planning permission”, you might think of red-tape, weeks of waiting and decisions you don’t agree with. If you’re planning to install a sign or advert on your building or construction site, you’ll need to make sure you have consent.

We’ve done the hard work and read pages and pages of legal documents to find the important details that can help you to get planning permission for signs on buildings.

Before Doing Anything Else, Check: Do You Even Need Planning Permission?

Many adverts and building signs fall under deemed consent, meaning that, as long as you adhere to predetermined conditions, you don’t need to complete an application. There are 16 kinds of adverts that currently have deemed consent:


  1. Miscellaneous adverts on any premises.
  2. Temporary ads that are used to promote upcoming events.
  3. Ads on business forecourts, including restaurant terraces.
  4. Ads on hoardings around temporary construction sites. There is a three-year limit on this.
  5. Ads on business premises that are designed to draw attention to a business’ commercial services, usually cafes, shops, restaurants and offices.
  6. Ads on telephone kiosks.
  7. Ads displayed on sites which have been used to display ads for the last 10 years.
  8. Balloon ads.
  9. Flags, but they can only display the name, logo or trademark of the brand.
  10. Illuminated ads that aren’t in National Parks.
  11. Ads that are displayed inside buildings.
  12. Outdoor signs for approved CCTV or Neighbourhood Watch schemes.
  13. Directional ads for house building firms.
  14. Functional ads that are created by public bodies that offer important information to the public, i.e. a bus timetable.
  15. Ads displayed on highway structures.
  16. Ads displayed after the expiry of express consent (which is usually five years) as long as the planning authority hasn’t forbidden that ad or refused an application for its renewal.

 If you do not meet any of the deemed consent criteria, above, you then need to go through the planning application process.

 check: who decides whether or

not you’ll get permission?

 This can depend on where you are in the UK and the kind of place you’re in. Consent is granted by the local planning authority, so you’ll need to find out who that is.

The local planning authority is usually the District or County Council but there are some exceptions. If your building is in London, then you’ll need to seek approval from the London Borough Council.

Any signs or adverts placed on buildings in National Parks are subject to the National Park Authority, rather than the local County or District Council.

Actually Applying for Planning Permission for Signs

Once you’ve established who provides planning permission in your area, you can begin your application. Most planning authorities use a straightforward form that you’ll need to fill out. You can get a copy of this form by speaking to the local body’s Planning Department or by visiting

In addition to the application form, you’ll need to provide comprehensive illustrations that outline your plans. These drawings need to be as thorough and detailed as possible. Entering basic illustrative plans that don’t contain the necessary information will likely lead to your application being rejected.

Within your application, it can be useful to conduct your own research and outline the impact that your building sign will have on the local area. Offering as much detailed information as possible can make it more likely for you to receive planning permission for signs on buildings.

There’s also a charge for the application that you’ll have to pay. This fee changes depending on the kind of advert or sign you’d like to install. The application form itself usually details the fees involved.

 how is your application decided?

what’s considered?

 After you’ve completed the form, paid the charge and submitted illustrations of your plans, your application is considered, reviewed and decided on.

The decision is usually made by the Planning Committee of your local council although it may be delegated to an officer of the department. This individual will need to consider two key issues that determine whether or not you’ll receive planning permission for building signs, as outlined in the Guide for Advertisers.

 public safety

 The Committee or Officer will consider whether or not your building sign is safe for the general public. This mainly involves its impact on passing motorists. If your sign or advertisement is likely to distract drivers, it may be rejected as it could result in car accidents.

It isn’t just road users that are taken into consideration. If the building you plan to use is either tall or near a waterway, both water and air transportation has to be taken into account. If you plan to place a large sign on a very tall building, the Committee needs to assess whether this could have an impact on air travel.


 Once the sign is deemed to be safe, its impact on the local community is then considered. This involves assessing the local characteristics of the area – what might be appropriate for a city centre building may not be for a small village.

This is especially important for construction sites as your signage or adverts can help to improve relations with a local community that’s being affected by your building work.

Scenic, architectural and cultural features are all taken into account to decide whether or not your application is in keeping with the area. Consent might be refused if you plan to install a large advertisement next to a church or school.

Public decency is considered and if the sign is deemed to be inappropriate, offensive or loud, it is likely to be rejected. Think about who is most likely to see your advert each day and if the content is appropriate.

Members of the Planning Committee are usually on hand to offer guidance if you aren’t sure whether or not your application will be accepted. Speak to them informally before submitting your plans to get an idea of how successful you’ll be.

 so, what happens next?

 A decision is made after everything has been considered and what happens next depends on whether or not you were successful.

If you were granted consent – The local authority has deemed your building sign to meet their conditions and accepted your application. This consent usually lasts for five years but the period could be longer or shorter. The exact date of expiration will be included within their decision.

When the consent runs out, you won’t have to reapply for consent but the authority could take action to discontinue your sign at this point. Now you have permission, it’s worth thinking about other health and safety regulations you might need to comply with.

If you weren’t granted consent – Your application might have been rejected for a number of reasons or been accepted but with conditions you don’t agree with. You have the right to appeal their decision to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

This appeal can be submitted with an official advertisement appeal form which you can obtain from the Department for Communities and Local Government. The appeal needs to be submitted within eight weeks of your application’s rejection. The Secretary of State’s decision is deemed to be final although you do still have the right to appeal to the High Court.

Once you’ve received permission, you can move onto the next stage in the planning process – designing and printing the sign. You’ll need to find a printer that has experience working with such large prints who can provide high-quality work on time and under budget.

To find out more information on what you need to plan, design and install outdoor signage, why not download our brand new outdoor signage guide by clicking on the button below?