A plan to ban for sale signs from Preston’s historic Winckley Square have been unveiled.
The city’s council is pressing ahead with plans to force estate agents to apply for permission to put up signs around the square and neighbouring streets.
It said it will stop the area looking “down at the heel” by forcing agents to consider different ways to promote buildings for sale and to rent.
Agents have warned the council will have a fight on its hands to ban the boards.
John Crellin, city centre planning manager at the council, said: “We looked at whether the proliferation of these advertising boards and a detrimental impact on the character of the Square and concluded we did.
“Obviously, the council recognises the need to market these properties and we are looking at alternatives including signs in shop windows on places like Fishergate and creating an online display board.”
He added the changes would not be automatically put in place even if they received the approval from the council’s cabinet, which will discuss the plans next Wednesday.
Mr Crellin added: “We would have to apply to the Government for the powers to do this which could add a further six months to the process.”
Environment director Mick Lovatt added that signs in the historic town of Lytham had adopted a more “subtle” approach to advertising vacant units.
Under the proposals, due to be debated by the council’s cabinet next week, the restrictions will cover Winckley Square, Chapel Street, Winckley Street, Garden Street, Ribblesdale Place and Starkie Street.
Jody Lauder, a surveyor at Petty Commercial, warned it would be “extremely hard” to convince agents to scrap using the signs.
Martin Ainsworth, of property agents HDAK, added the problem around the Square was having the right accommodation available.
Architect David Cox, of Wood Associates, said: “If there was decent Grade A space on the square it would get moving.”