Chester A-boards Review

​This consultation is now closed.

The Council is consulting on two options to control ‘A’ boards in Chester city centre. An ‘A’ board is typically an ‘A’ shape frame advertising board generally made of timber with some form of hinge at the apex, although other styles exist, such as those consisting of a sign mounted on a heavy base.

Why is it necessary to control 'A' boards

These boards or signs are common across Chester but it is essential that pedestrians have a clear, safe route along pavements and walkways. More and more ‘A’ boards are being displayed in Chester’s streets, which creates problems for pedestrians who have to get around pavement signage. It is particularly difficult for visually impaired people, those with mobility issues, wheelchair users and parents and carers with pushchairs. Also, the growth in the number of boards makes our city look cluttered and less attractive.

The boards are a particular issue in Chester city centre as a result of the large number of boards on display in the city’s many narrow, often cobbled streets. In addition, the existence of retail outlets on two levels – on the Rows and at street level – means that there is a larger number of retailers with ‘A’ boards competing for street level space than is the case in many towns and cities.

We appreciate that businesses need to promote their services and bring in custom, but this needs to be done whilst considering the safety of passing pedestrians and the effect on the street scene and the local economy.

The Council considers that it is important to encourage retail and commercial activity and it has long been recognised that economic vitality can be influenced by the quality of the shopping environment, including the design of advertisements, as well as shopfronts, blinds, canopies and security shutters. The design of all of these can have a great impact on the character or appearance of an individual building or surrounding area and can detract from it if not carefully considered.

What your views will be used for

Your feedback will be used to help inform possible future changes to the policy for controlling ‘A’ boards in Chester. The consultation relates to the display of boards in the city’s streets, not within private land.

What we are consulting on

It is an offence to obstruct the highway or to display an advertisement without consent. Legislation allows, however, for licensing schemes managed by a local authority. In early 2011, in an attempt to control the use of ‘A’ boards, the Council introduced a set of Toleration Guidelines as a pilot scheme. The guidelines rely on businesses regulating themselves, but, despite an intensive awareness–raising campaign, there continues to be widespread non-compliance. So we are now considering two options to deal with the issue.

The options to control 'A' boards

A - Licensing Regime

The first option is to introduce a licensing regime for ‘A’ boards. The key features of a licensing regime are:

  • Businesses in the defined area would have to apply for a licence to display an ‘A’ board. This area includes all Chester city centre streets within and including the boundary of the A5268 (St Martin’s Way, Nicholas Street, Pepper Street, Little St John Street, Vicars Lane, Union Street, and St Oswald’s Way), and including Lower Bridge Street and Brook Street to its boundary with Francis Street, but excluding private land.
  • The licence would be granted under the Highways Act 1980 if the ‘A’ board was approved following assessment by a highways officer 
  • Advertisement consent would also be required, and this could be built in to a single application process
  • Formal action may be taken against businesses/business owners who display an ‘A’ board without a licence (please see the'A' Boards Enforcement Procedure document for details).
  • Formal action may be taken against licence holders who fail to comply with the licence conditions in accordance with the Council’s published process for non-compliance (please see the'A' Boards Enforcement Procedure document for details).
  • The indicative cost of a licence would be in the region of £250 for initial approval, and £75 for licence renewal every 12 months to cover the cost of the scheme.

Related documents

B - Zero Tolerance

The second option is zero tolerance. The key features of a zero tolerance policy are:

  • No businesses would be permitted to display an ‘A’ board within the highway (highway includes the pavement and walkway part of the Rows)
  • Any boards on display would be removed
  • Formal action (simple caution or prosecution, usually following a warning) could be taken against businesses/business owners who display an ‘A’ board.

How do I share my views

This consultation runs for 12 weeks and closes on Tuesday 5 July 2016. There is a range of ways to express your views:

Further information

Council information is also available in audio, braille, large print or other formats. If you would like a copy in a different format, in another language or require a British sign language (BSL) interpreter:


Latest documents