Council lobbies for powers to ban estate agents boards in six local areas

Published: Friday 22nd June 18

Estate agents boards – seen by many as eyesores that litter the landscape – could become a thing of the past in six areas of the borough if ministers back the council’s call for new powers to tackle the issue.

Wandsworth is to seek additional powers from the secretary of state to ban all estate agent boards from the following areas: Balham High Road, Northcote Road, Queenstown Road, Old York Road, Tooting Town Centre and the stretch of Garratt Lane north of Earlsfield Station.

Councillors on the community services committee last night (Thursday) backed the move after hearing that similar powers had been successfully used since 2016 in the three town centres at Putney, Balham and Clapham Junction – along with streets in and around Lavender Hill.

A report to committee members stated: “The council is experiencing a significant increase in the volume of complaints regarding the proliferation of estate agent boards in parts of the borough.

“In some areas, agents are using their boards as a means of additional advertising notwithstanding if their properties are being sold or let. In other circumstances it appears the boards are being displayed for long periods of time without being removed by agents when their premises are sold or let. This is having a detrimental effect on the visual amenity of our streets and has prompted calls from residents for the council to take pro-active action to resolve the situation.”

The council’s planning spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This approach to the minister will be supported by many people who see these signs as nothing other than an unwelcome blot on the landscape.

“This is especially true for residents who live in blocks of flats that are often heavily targeted by estate agents even if they don’t have a property to sell or rent anywhere nearby.

“Tackling this problem without these powers is incredibly time consuming and a major drain on resources. Each individual sign has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and as soon as one is taken down another appears in its place.

“If the minister grants this request it would build on the successful implementation of the scheme in four parts of the borough that had previously been targeted quite relentlessly by local estate agents.

“In those parts of the borough estate agents simply complied with the prohibition in the full knowledge that if they didn’t they would face a hefty fine that would increase day-by-day until their sign was removed.

“The scheme has worked very effectively so far which is why we now want to expand it to cover these six additional areas.”

The 2016 powers were awarded to the council after a similar request to the then secretary of state, who appointed an independent planning inspector to consider the merits of the council’s case and make a recommendation.

Describing the boards as “a dominating feature in the street scene”, the inspector concluded: “Estate agents’ for sale and letting boards significantly harm visual amenity in the four areas concerned.

“By their very nature the boards are intended to be temporary features and this is reflected in the relative crudeness of their design and materials. When they become almost semi-permanent and are seen in large numbers, they detract markedly from the visual quality of an area.

“Accordingly, a reduction in their numbers in the areas concerned would significantly improve visual amenity. These are all densely populated urban areas and any diminution in environmental quality is experienced by a large number of residents and people travelling through the areas.”         

Cllr Cook added: “Most marketing of properties for sale or rent is now done online and people who are interested in moving to a particular area can find homes to buy or rent very easily on the internet.

“The only people who want to put these eyesore signs up are the agents because they are a cheap and simple advertising tool. No-one apart from them will mourn their disappearance.” 

Within the ban areas any estate agent boards erected without the express consent from the council is guilty of an offence under section 224 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  Any person found guilty of such an offence is liable of a fine of up to £2,500 upon conviction in the magistrates' court and up to £250 per day should the offence continue after a first conviction.

The ban would not extend to boards often given to parents to advertise local school fairs of fetes. The ban would cover only those boards specifically used to advertise the sale or letting of a property.

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Recent comments

Please add to your ban the endlessly polluted with estate agent boards streets of Battersea Rise, Latchmere, Elspeth Rd, Clapham Common N. Side and Battersea Park Road; though a complete ban is the only answer to this mindless archaic practice that blights the community.

26 September 2018

I support this.

2 July 2018

I support a borough-wide ban on estate agent boards. The endless clutter of these boards, satellite dishes, unnessecary & unwanted signage is creating an unattractive environment & spoiling our high streets & neigbourhoods.They seemingly never get removed and even when redundant can remain for years and often erected even when a property is neither for sale or for let. Be bold in your measurets Wandsworth Council. They won’t be missed and resources, like the wood, spared.
Gill Allen

1 July 2018

These agent boards are a blot on otherwise attractive streets - and a form of litter. Why limit the proposed ban to some few chosen streets. I sometimes phone the estate agents displaying sold/let boards on my street that remain after the 2 week allowable period and am often met with hostility when requesting they are removed. They demand to know my name, my address, and incorrectly argue that the boards are allowed to remain until 2 weeks after the new tenant has actually moved in/sale has completed - which can be months.
C Wood

30 June 2018

I am now fed up with my road (Badminton Road SW12) being an eyesore with Estate agent boards for 'Let and Managed'... No one these days goes looking down a street for a place to rent.. It is all ONLINE. My road is a disgrace with these hoardings. Please can we stop these boards for good. Who takes any notice of them..??? Apart from curious residents to 'look inside' the property on the internet. Wandsworth is a great borough... so please stop this. I am dismayed as most of my side of road is 'buy to let' or people moving on and have rented their properties. As a resident.. I hate my street! It is an eyesore and the BOARDS ARE UP FOR MONTHS!!!!

28 June 2018

wbc have you even seen the signage on the roads? without the boards the streets are still awash with clutter, in 10ft of road you can have upto 15 signs telling you abut parking speed litter dogs public space etc etc.. very hypocritical the steet clutter in wandsworth is dire!

27 June 2018

I strongly support this move as the boards are ugly and unnecessary street furniture. With the help of the Internet it is possible to readily what property is available for sale or let in a specific area. Indeed in roads such Crockerton and Dalebury (SW17) where there a lot of flats, the boards are a complete eye sore and often damage the walls of properties when erected or removed.
Michael Chesher

23 June 2018

I support a borough-wide ban on all such boards, no matter what the purpose. They're an eyesore and a waste of materials.
Anita Phillips

23 June 2018

I agree with the idea of a total ban borough-wide of these boards, but don't see why boards promoting school fairs etc should be exempt. Estate agents use these as a loophole to promote themselves - their name dominates the board, not the event. At least other boards outside a property may indicate that it is for sale/rent, but that is not the case with those promoting fundraising events.
Nigel Algar

23 June 2018

A good idea. But, better still, could you also restrict the numbers of actual estate agents in any one road? Bellevue Road, opposite Wandsworth Common, is completely swamped by them and losing any community feel it used to have from local independent shops like The Lucky Parrot.
nigel fishwick

23 June 2018

Not before time, thet are an eyesore and remain up long after the sale/let has happened contary to existing law ......ban them or have to get planning permission.
Antony Davenport

23 June 2018

What a load of petty minded comments here, all gifting Wandsworth Council the go ahead to ban estate agents boards altogether in the borough. Remember, the controlled parking scheme started with just a few streets mainly around St Georges hospital and then extended to the whole borough. Estate agent boards have their uses as you can see what's on offer in your street or local area. I agree they should be removed once the property has been sold. But other businesses are just as guilty in placing signs outside properties eg. loft conversions or roofing contractors when there is nothing apparently going on. Just like the signs on motorways really restricting speeds with cones when there is nothing apparently going on.

22 June 2018

They are often advertising things like fetes also. But could someone please get the nursery school in the old West Hill library to take down all its unnecessary advertising hoardings from the front, Itl ooks a right mess.
Carol Tibbs

22 June 2018

I'd personally be in favour of a total ban on these signs. Once upon a time they served a purpose but all these agents have websites now, with maps of where their available properties are, so there is no longer a need for these eyesores.
Ian Elliot

22 June 2018

Great. Why not everywhere? No exceptions
Ian Godden

22 June 2018

Re. Estate Agents Boards. I totally agree with the attempt to curb the disease of redundant boards blighting the streets of Wandsworth. Old York Road is an eyesore of boards as is Garratt Lane, many of which have been up for years. It makes a joke of litter laws, if they were at ground level there would be automatic prosecutions
L. Hubbard

22 June 2018

Fantastic idea, but should be for the whole of Wandsworth. Not only are they unsightly but they cause damage when they attached to walls. My front gate and part of the holding wall has broken due to so many boards being hammered into the wall.
Simon Bennett

22 June 2018

Oh well done Wandsworth! Yes let's get rid of these outmoded advertising signs. It would be nice to get rid of the junk mail from the Estate Agents as well.
Chris Phelan

22 June 2018

Great idea and very popular. Why not also Battersea Park Road between Falcon Road and Latchmere Road. Very narrow and busy high street that has lots of flats above shops and is stuffed full of boards, just like the six areas you are proposing.

22 June 2018

Maalems have a permanent one at 216 Earlsfield Road but no-one at planning seems concerned. These are the ones that need removing but even if you report them nothing happens.
Celia Blair

22 June 2018

I think that an exception to any banning of boards should be those put up with the agreement of the occupants of properties to estate agents acting as sponsors for charities. I wonder whether leafleting could be included with any ban. My "no estate agent, mini cab, or take-away flyers" and "no junk mail" notices on my letterbox flap is routinely ignored. I used to return the leaflets and complain to those concerned, but have long since given up trying to do anything about it.
Bill Travers

22 June 2018

ALLELUJA! Great to see this finally being addressed though mind boggling it hasn't been done so 10+ years ago! While perhaps not banning them outright - advertising a property for sale or rent is reasonable and sometime people are on the look out but not actively looking (online). But limit the length of time it's allowed to be displayed - say no more than 6 weeks. And pass a law so that say £500 fines are given if signs are not removed within 7 days of said transaction! (One of the worst offences that seems to go un-monitored and punished) Furthermore - consider creating strict guidelines for more appealing sign size/design/quality for smaller spaces. Visual pollution is epidemic. Please do take control.
Jacqueline Allen

22 June 2018

Brilliant. Should be extended throughout the whole borough. The hoardings themselves when they proliferate in a particular area, often have the effect of making the properties being advertised less attractive.

22 June 2018

WBC explains that the ban would cover only those boards specifically used to advertise the sale or letting of a property and NOT boards often given to parents or home owners to advertise local school fairs of fetes. If this is the case then the proposal does not adequately address the issue. Many boards now advertise school functions and this leaves a loop hole for estate agents to exploit.

22 June 2018

Great initiative. I wish it could be borough wide. These boards are a blight and completely unnecessary given online advertising.
Het Marsh

22 June 2018

They should also look at Warriner gardens in battersea - boards over stay up for more than a year and in multi occupancy flats often 2 or 3 boards in one location - question need for boards given age of the internet !

22 June 2018

Good initiative. Better if you could ban flyposters and prosecute/fine them especially those which advertise music/gig events

22 June 2018

I'm in favour of this measure, but please ensure that it covers estate agents' signs advertising every phase of the sale process: not only FOR SALE and TO LET but also SOLD, UNDER OFFER, SOLD SUBJECT TO CONTRACT, etc. These serve no purpose at all besides advertising the agent's services.
A Botsford

22 June 2018

I totally agree. People look online for properties these days. This ban should be applied throughout the borough
Rigby Watson

22 June 2018