The proposals are based on research by consultants as part of the department's land use planning research programme. After a survey of all local planning authorities in England, the research report examined possible options for change. It concluded that alternative simpler powers are available to local authorities, and that extra controls are largely obsolete.
Sir Paul emphasised that abolition of the ASCA regime would not result in a proliferation of poster hoardings and directional signs beside roads in the countryside. Local planning authorities would still be able to use their present discretionary powers to control such advertisements.
Commenting on the proposals, Sir Paul said:
Comments on the proposal are requested by 10 May 1996.
The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 govern the display of all outdoor advertisements and signs in England and Wales. The consultation paper invites views on a proposal to abolish the system of designation of ASCAs under the 1992 Regulations. ASCA-designated areas are usually rural in character. About 50% of the area of England and Wales is designated.
The effect of designation is to impose greater restriction on certain signs which may be displayed with 'deemed consent', as well as a prohibition on any general poster- hoarding advertisements. The research undertaken for the department found that up to 90% of existing ASCA designations may not have been reviewed for long periods, despite a statutory requirement for five-yearly review.
Separate consultation in Wales is being carried out by the Welsh Office.