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Bristol Council A-Boards crackdown

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  • 25th October 2013

A-Boards are a cheap, effective way of advertising your business to passing trade however the Bristol council is cracking down on businesses using A-boards as the, “block pedestrian and disabled access”.

Business have been warned that their A-boards need to be at least 6 feet clear of the kerb or they could face prosecution from the Council.

A-Board Signs

Bristols Current A-Board Policy

A-boards policy for Bristol includes the following guidelines and applies to boards on the public right-of-way:

  • A-boards should be within 60 cm of the front of the business with at least 1.8 metres of clear space between the board and the road.
  • A-boards should be a maximum of 1.1 metres high and of the standard A1 size.
  • Promotional signs are discouraged in favour of informational signs.
  • Boards must be temporary in nature but stable enough to not get blown over. They should not be fixed to bollards or street furniture.
  • Boards should relate to the business of the establishment.
  • Boards should not be a hazard to drivers due to obstructions, glare or other distractions.

Practical Guidelines for “A” Boards on the Highway

“A” Boards and other freestanding pavement signs should be placed within a distance of 60 cm immediately in front of the premises they are advertising provided that 1.8 metres of clear footway can be retained between the road and the board.

No “A” Board or other freestanding pavement signs should be placed on highway land where there are private forecourts that could be used to accommodate them in accordance with conditional deemed consent.

Dimensions of “A” Boards

“A” Boards should be a standard A1 size and a maximum of 1.1 metres high. This is to ensure some uniformity in design, and thereby limit the size of the obstruction in the highway.

Colour and Design

Strong colours enhance in small quantities; too much and the effect is overpowering. To achieve impact a sign or advertisement should contrast with its background but it should not overwhelm it. Vibrant colours can be appropriate in commercial areas to add excitement, but may not be appropriate in more sensitive areas such as Conservation Areas or close to Listed Buildings.

Signs which are purely promotional rather than informative, for example, a sign bearing wording advertising a “Sale” or “Special Offer”, are discouraged in favour of a sign bearing the name of the company or organisation owning or operating in the premises. This is not because of the subject matter of the sign, but in order to discourage a proliferation of promotional advertising, which ultimately could lead to a cluttered appearance.


No electrical supply or Illumination will be considered on the Highway where it constitutes a highway hazard.

General A-Board Guidelines

All “A” Boards and other freestanding pavement signs should be temporary in their nature so that they can be easily removed (e.g. require no excavation to install or remove).

“A” Boards and other freestanding pavement signs must not damage the highway. They must also be stable and not easily blown over.

Rotating or swinging signs, boards, displays, etc. on public highway should be avoided.

“A” Boards should relate to the normal business of the trading establishment.

Where multiple occupancy premises share joint accesses, only one sign, board, display, etc. will normally be considered appropriate per frontage (such as Arcades and Courts). However lternative options may be considered such as larger shared boards

Any business should only display one “A” Board.

Advance directional “A” Board signs should not be placed on the highway away from

It is not permitted to fix/chain boards or adverts to any bollard or piece of street furniture.

Placing “A” Boards in sensitive areas such as conservation areas or close to listed buildings can be unacceptable because of the adverse impact that the proliferation of such displays can have on visual amenity. As such particular attention will be paid to the visual amenity consideration of the ‘”A” Boards in such locations.

“A” Boards will be the owners’ responsibility when placed on the highway and the Highway Authority will not be liable for any injury or damage caused to highway users where these are placed on the highway.

All “A” Boards should be removed in their entirety from the Highway at the end of the days trading.

Nothing in these guidelines absolves those concerned from their legal responsibilities under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended and the Highways Act 1980.

Safety Considerations

The impact of an advertisement on public safety will depend on the nature of the advertisement and its location. The advertisement should not be so distracting or confusing that it endangers people who are taking reasonable care for their own and others safety.

An A-Board sign would be considered a hazard if: –

  • It obstructs visibility
  • Its content or appearance might distract the attention for a period of sufficient duration to endanger the viewer;
  • It might create glare and dazzle the viewer;
  • It obstructs, overshadows or distracts the attention away from highway, signs, signals or beacons.

Danny Chard is the Managing Director of Assigns Point-of-Sale and Graphic Display Systems

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