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Council resists 'To Let' boards ban in Durham City
CAMPAIGNERS have been left disappointed after a council refused to banish ‘To Let’ boards from Durham city centre.
Under pressure from residents, Durham County Council introduced a voluntary code of practice in November 2011.
Participating estate agents pledged to limit the number of boards on each house and street, their shape, size and location and the time of year they were displayed.
The code ran on a trial basis until March, followed by a council review.
Campaigners claimed it failed and wanted the council to effectively ban To Let signs under a so-called Article 7 direction, which would require landlords to apply for planning permission for every board.
However, the council has rejected the idea, opting to strengthen the code instead.
The new version asks each landlord to display only one board per property type per street and limits boards’ shape, size, location and display period – November 1 to January 31.
The code applies to the Viaduct, Byland Lodge, Crossgate, Gilesgate and central areas of the city.
It will be run as a trial this winter, with council chief saying if it fails they would then consider an Article 7 direction.
However, Roberta Blackman-Woods, the city’s Labour MP, said the code didn’t go far enough and should be replaced with an Article 7 as soon as possible.
David Freeman, Liberal Democrat councillor for Elvet and Gilesgate, said the latest voluntary code was “just putting off the strong action the council should have taken years ago through adopting Article 7”.
Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of planning, said the 2011 voluntary code had been introduced following consultation with residents’ groups and agents, the council had been monitoring the situation and the changes proposed would “further assist in improving the position”.
“We have extended the area covered by the code to address new complaints, reduced the number of boards permitted and changed the timing to be more in line with the market.
“We will continue to keep a close eye on the amount of boards, working with letting agencies and residents.
“The council seeks to work with all parties in looking for a solution but if the code does not provide a control on the use of the boards then we will look at other options.”
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