Tourism signs

The tourist industry has long recognised the benefits of adequate and distinctive signs for visitors and tourists. ‘Brown’ tourist signs help visitors to find the attraction as well as promoting it to potential visitors.

Traffic signing Regulations issued by the Department of Transport define a tourist attraction as a ‘permanently established destination or facility which attracts or is used by visitors to an area and is open to the public without prior booking during its normal opening hours’.

There is a need to ensure that only facilities which are genuinely used by tourists are signed. Excessive signing is detrimental to the environment.  A balance must be struck between the needs of individual tourism businesses, the environment and road safety.

There are two authorities that control signs:

  • The Highways Agency controls eligibility for brown signs on national trunk road networks (which includes most motorways).
  • Local Authorities have their own policies on the provision of brown signs on local roads (i.e. all roads other than trunk roads).

Warwickshire County Council is responsible for Tourism Signs on roads operated and maintained by the Local Authority (this excludes Motorways and Trunk Roads). There is a Policy governing the use of Tourism Signs and an Application Form which can be downloaded from this page.

Tourism Sign Application Process

Applicants should be aware that they will be responsible for the full costs of implementing the signs, including investigation, design and installation.

Applications will be dealt with by the Traffic & Road Safety Team following the receipt of an initial investigation fee. This fee is not refundable if the application is refused.

Successful applicants who wish to proceed will be informed of the total costs of the signs before proceeding. The application will remain active for two months post approval, if no confirmation is received from the applicant then the application will be terminated.

Tourism Signs Policy

1. Introduction

1.1 Traffic signing Regulations issued by the Department of Transport define a tourist attraction as a ‘permanently established destination or facility which attracts or is used by visitors to an area and is open to the public without prior booking during its normal opening hours’.

1.2 There is a need to ensure that only facilities which are genuinely used by tourists are signed. Excessive signing is detrimental to the environment. A balance must be struck between the needs of individual tourism businesses, the environment and road safety.

2. General Principles

2.1 Eligibility for signs does not imply a right to signs. It may be necessary to turn down a request for a sign at a given location because of siting difficulties or where the number of destinations signed at a junction would be excessive. The maximum number of destinations that a driver can read and understand on a sign whilst driving is six. If long names are used or the road carries fast-moving traffic – generally ‘A’ class roads – this number will be lower.

2.2 Long names on signs are difficult for motorists to read. The attraction name which appears on the sign should not be more than three or four words long. Only two tourist symbols will be allowed for each attraction.

2.3 In conservation areas and areas of special landscape significance, the impact of signs on the environment will be an important factor. In urban areas there will often be insufficient space to erect additional signs or add tourist destinations to existing signs.

2.4 The County Council reserves the right to alter, reposition or remove a sign:

• to accommodate another sign;

• because the establishment no longer qualifies for signs;

• if it becomes known that details included in the application were falsely claimed.

2.5 The design of signs is the responsibility of the County Council in its capacity as highway authority. We will not modify existing signs by adding the name of an attraction and in all cases a completely new sign will be provided incorporating the attraction name. The cost to the attraction operator will be based on the size of the new sign. Prices are given in Appendix 1.

2.6 Signing to an establishment may start from:

• either the nearest main road, usually an ‘A’ or ‘B’ road, though in some cases the nearest ‘C’ class road may be more appropriate;

• or the point where the route to an establishment differs from the signed route into the nearest town or village.

2.7 Establishments which are located directly on ‘A’ or ‘B’ roads may not always need signs, especially if the entrance is visible and identifiable from a distance. Consideration may be given to signing an attraction from the nearest ‘A’ road junction if it would otherwise be difficult for drivers to find the establishment and the facility is of significant value to the local tourist market. In a few exceptional cases it may be necessary to sign an attraction more extensively, either because it is very important or for traffic management reasons.

2.8 Public houses, hotels, cafes and restaurants situated on ‘A’ roads will not normally be signed. Exceptions will only be considered when the establishment is located within one mile of a junction with another ‘A’ road and there are benefits to the road user in the establishment being signed.

2.9 In the case of small attractions in rural areas, signing will only be provided either within the village in which it is located or from the nearest village.

3. Applications for Tourism Signs in Warwickshire

3.1 The applicant must show that:

• a significant number of visitors to the establishment (it is suggested at least 40%) are from outside the area (more than 15 miles away);

• there is a need for signs to enable visitors to find the establishment;

• the establishment is of significant value to the local tourist market.

If it is uncertain whether these conditions are met, the owner of the establishment must carry out a survey of users to determine what proportion of visitors are coming from outside the 15 mile area and what problems are encountered in finding the site.

3.2 There must be sufficient on-site parking space to accommodate the number of visitors anticipated.

3.3 The establishment must be open to people making impulse visits within normal opening hours. Tourist signs will not be provided where entrance is by prior arrangement. In the case of sports facilities, there must be minimal restrictions on visitor and non-member use.

3.4 Customer facilities must be adequate for the size, location and type of operation. A public toilet must be available.

3.5 The establishment must be open on at least 150 days a year for at least 4 hours each day.

3.6 The business must have planning permission and be licensed where appropriate.

3.7 The establishment must comply with prevailing Tourist Board standards such as the National Code of Practice for Visitor Attractions.

3.8 Signs will not be agreed where an establishment already has off-site advertisement signs (with or without planning permission) other than at the entrance to the establishment. The applicant must also agree not to erect any such signs whilst tourist signs are in place. If this happens the County Council reserves the right to remove the tourist signs without compensation to the attraction operator.

3.9 Hotels must be classified by the English Tourist Board. Hotels located in service areas will not qualify for tourist signs if the bed symbol already appears on a ‘Services’ sign.

3.10 Self-catering accommodation, e.g. cottages/holiday flats, must have a minimum of 10 units on the site.

3.11 Camping/caravan sites:

• must be licensed under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 or the Public Health Act 1936.

• have a minimum of 20 pitches available for casual overnight use.

3.12 Public Houses:

• which do not serve meals will not be eligible for tourist signs;

• which do serve meals must:

i. be registered with the local Borough or District Council under the Food Safety Act 1990;

ii. serve meals at lunchtimes and in the evenings without the need to prebook;

iii. allow families with children to use the facilities;

iv. fulfil the criteria in Section 2.1 above.

3.13 Restaurants and cafes must:

• be registered with the local Borough or District Council under the Food Safety Act 1990;

• be open to diners without the need to prebook;

• fulfil the criteria in Section 2.1 above.

Mobile snack bars will not be signed.

Premises attached to petrol filling stations do not qualify for tourist signs but may be eligible, together with the petrol filling station, for “Services” signs. In such cases motorists must be allowed to use public toilets without the need to purchase anything.

4. Signing in Towns

4.1 Hotels, restaurants, public houses, cafes and retail establishments located in towns will only be signed in very exceptional circumstances as there will be too many such establishments to be signed individually. Direction signs will usually guide visitors to the ‘Town Centre’ which implies the presence of these facilities.

4.2 Out-of-town shopping centres do not qualify for tourist signs, although they may be signed with standard direction signs. Individual premises within shopping centres will not be signed separately on the public highway.

5. Bypassed Community Signs

5.1 Facilities such as cafes, restaurants, public houses and hotels may qualify collectively for local services signs. In such cases there must be public toilets available in the town or village. The County Council will not provide funds for these signs.

6. Financial Arrangements

6.1 Tourism signing is provided entirely at the expense of the applicant. Costs charged for tourism signing are given in our Tourism Sign Price List.

6.2 When a sign is damaged, stolen or otherwise in need of replacement and the attraction operator wants the sign replaced, the cost charged to the operator will be:

• a design fee of £100 per sign;

• the cost to the County Council for the supply and erection of the sign.

6.3 Applicants may, with the County Council’s permission, make their own arrangements for the manufacture and erection of signs. In such cases the signs must be made by an approved road traffic sign manufacturer.

6.4 In such an instance WCC would require to know the following points :-

• The name of the sign manufacturer.

• The name of the sign erector.

• The sign erector will also be responsible for carrying out an underground service search prior to the excavation for new poles.

• The applicant will ensure a Method of Statement is supplied to WCC prior to any works commencing. (WCC will supply an itemised list of works to be carried out )

• WCC will need to be made aware of a future time frame in which the works will be carried out. (A two week window should suffice)

• The applicant is responsible for obtaining the required Street Works Licence prior to any works commencing.

• The applicant’s and/or the contractor’s design work – based on WCC information (see paragraph 2.5) – will include the liaison with the local District Council, the local Parish Council and the relevant local trade organisation, in order to determine whether or not the signing for other neighbouring attractions and facilities need to be taken into account. Copies of all the consultation documents shall be forwarded to WCC at the time of submission of the signing scheme.

• Once works are completed an on site check will be required by staff to ensure compliance with the agreed design.

• The fee to cover subsequent administrative and checking costs will be 10% of the price which WCC would have charged had it carried out the works in full.

6.5 Erection of signs must be done by a contractor approved in advance by the County Council.
If excavation work is needed, the contractor must comply with the requirements of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. No excavation works can be carried out on a public highway until the County Council has issued a Private Street Works Licence (Section 50 of the Act). A contractor working on a public highway must be qualified, as given in the Act, to undertake such works and provide evidence in advance of any works being carried out that a suitable third party liability insurance policy to a value of not less than £5 million (five million pounds) is in force.

7. Motorways and Trunk Roads in Warwickshire

7.1 The County Council is not the highway authority for motorways or trunk roads in Warwickshire and is not responsible for providing signs on these roads. For tourist signs on motorways and trunk roads in the County, an approach must be made to:

The Highways Agency
Broad Street
B15 1BL

8. References

1. The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002.

2. Circular Roads 3/95
Traffic Signs To Tourist Attractions and Facilities in England

3. The Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 7 – The Design of Traffic Signs (1997)

4. Planning Policy Guidance Note 19 – Outdoor Advertisement Control
5. Planning Policy Guidance Note 21 – Tourism