Crackdown on St Albans community events being publicised on estate agent boards

A proliferation in the use of estate agent boards for advertising community events in the district has prompted a call for a review.

Increasing numbers of boards have appeared in local roads publicising school fairs and other events - but the concern is that they are often primarily commercial adverts for estate agents.

A St Albans council task and finish group which looked into the issue has asked a planning scrutiny commmittee to recommend that a review of the boards is carried out.

Putting up such boards needs the council’s consent and failure to do so could result in the householder being prosecuted.

Research by the task and finish group has shown that other local authorities insist the estate agent logo should take up no more than a fifth of the sign.

The group also looked at planning enforcement issues where complaints range from concerns about garden fences and house extensions to activities at large industrial plants.

In the three months from April to June this year, 135 complaints were received, 59 in April alone.

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During the same period, 133 investigated cases were closed while three enforcement and one planning contravention notice were served.

With the council’s enforcement team now up to full strength, the planning enforcement pages on the website are to be updated with one section making it clear to residents what can be investigated and what is not covered.

Planning scrutiny committee chair, Cllr Roma Mills, said: “I am pleased that we have highlighted the valuable work undertaken by the Council’s planning enforcement team.

“I also realise that residents often find it difficult to understand the enforcement process.

“It’s my hope that by having a policy and updating the relevant pages on the council’s website, we will make planning enforcement issues clearer and bring more transparency to the work of the team.”