AFTER years of campaigning by residents, steps are being taken to curb the number of letting boards outside homes in a historic city.

Durham County Council is considering proposals that would force landlords to ask for permission to put up letting boards outside properties within the Durham City Conservation Area.

It has been an issue for residents for many years because of the high number of student properties, rented annually, in parts of the city.

Though there is a voluntary code in place, which is meant to limit each landlord to one sign per street, it has been regularly flouted.

Roger Cornwell, chair of the Crossgate Community partnership, said: “We have been pressing the council to do something about the blight of lettings boards since at least Autumn 2010, and this proposal, welcome though it is, is long overdue.

“In this internet age lettings boards are not needed. Durham students can find places to live through a considerable number of websites.

“And lettings boards disfigure the city, which was made a conservation area thirty years ago in order to preserve its special character, one that is appreciated by residents and visitors alike.”

Durham County Council’s cabinet will consider the proposal to introduce at a meeting next week.

If approved, a formal proposal would have to be made to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Councillor Carl Marshall said: “We have received significant representation from members of the public and businesses regarding the visual and environmental impact of letting boards on the historic heart of Durham.

“We previously implemented a voluntary code for advertisers, which asked letting agents and landlords to control the display of letting boards and limit them to one per street.

“However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this approach is no longer working, and therefore we feel a more formal approach is needed.

“This was supported when we consulted on the issue.”

More than 100 people responded to a consultation on the issue, with the majority of respondents saying the boards were harmful to the historic character of the city.