'Taking the mickey' - Advertiser slammed over unapproved billboard

Costessey Town Council member Gary Blundell who is calling for safety improvements on William Frost

Gary Blundell has accused an advertising company of trying to dodge planning rules - Credit: Archant

An advertising company has been accused of "taking the mickey" after putting up a billboard without planning permission.

Several months ago, a 48-sheet advertising boarding was placed on the edge of the Cooper Beach roundabout near the Longwater retail park in Costessey.

The hoardings, which were put up by Inschool Media, have advertised a range of things, including a spooky ad for the Primevil Halloween event.

However, after complaints about the boards being obstructive were made to Costessey councillors, it emerged the signs had been put up without planning permission.

Now, Inschool Media has launched a retrospective planning bid for the hoardings to stay after being threatened with enforcement action.

But Gary Blundell, a long-serving member of Costessey Town Council, has accused the advertisers of trying to dodge the planning system and avoid paying application fees.

He said: "It takes the mickey really. You see it quite often, advertisements will pop up and nobody really knows whether they have permission or not, so they don't go reported.

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"We have had complaints about the boards because while they don't necessarily obstruct the road, when you use the roundabout it is the first thing which catch your eye.

"I personally don't have any problem with companies advertising, but they need to have the right permission to be there and be in appropriate locations."

Mr Blundell added that a flaw in the planning system allowed companies to circumnavigate rules and make money from advertisements regardless of whether they have permission.

He said: "It is fairly rare that applications for advertising boards get turned down, there are only a few reasons they can be refused.

"But these people know that if they apply retrospectively, it buys them extra time and even if they are refused they can appeal, which gives them even more time. By the time the appeal is done, whatever happens, they've then been able to make money off of them for a good 18 months or so."

South Norfolk Council will decide whether the billboards can stay in due course.

David Galbraith, director of Inschool Media, confirmed the planning application had been submitted.