London councils get new powers over street clutter


London councils could cut back on street clutter under new guidelines freeing boroughs from needing to gain permission for putting up signs and lights on private property.

While councils were previously required to gain approval from businesses before placing signs or lights on their buildings, powers in the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2013 mean boroughs now only need to give owners 56 days’ notice of their plans.

Putting up the signs and lights on buildings reduces the need to erect columns on the pavement, which means walkways will be safer for people with impaired vision or mobility by reducing the number of obstacles they encounter.

Boroughs will only be able to use these powers if they sign up to London Councils’ new guidelines on the issue however, and property owners will still have the right to challenge these decisions and block signs or lights on their land.

Cllr Julian Bell, chair of London Councils’ transport and environment committee, said: ‘Street signage and lighting is essential but too often the posts and columns are ugly and intrusive. Everyone benefits from approaches, which protect the look and feel of our streets.

‘These new guidelines will empower boroughs to reduce the need to install more and more street furniture and reduce the cost of putting up signs and lights.

‘The document has also been designed as an informative and accessible tool to help property owners understand their rights under the legislation. Our aim is that boroughs, residents and business owners will work together to protect the capital’s urban environment.’

The news came after figures revealed London boroughs and Transport for London issued almost a quarter of a million fewer penalty charge notices (PCNs) for parking and traffic contraventions in 2014/15 than in the previous year.

The 4.7m PCNs issued in the capital last year represented the lowest figure since 2000/01 and a 5% fall on 2013/14.

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