THE use of letting boards in a city is “more widespread than ever” with new rules aimed at curbing their use yet to come into force.

Earlier this year Durham County Council agreed to move forward with plans to introduce new rules to try and control the number of letting boards in Durham’s conservation area.

The authority wrote to the Secretary of State in June to ask for the new powers to be granted and is awaiting a response.

In the meantime, the use of the boards, which are particularly prolific in areas of the city predominantly populated by students, is more widespread than ever, according to the city’s MP.

MP Roberta Blackman-Woods is now urging the Government to approve the powers to ensure this is the last year the boards are uncontrolled.

She said: “It’s now vitally important that we get over the final hurdle, and demonstrate that these powers are needed in Durham. I have therefore written to both the Planning Inspectorate and the Government to outline my support for the council’s request.

“The use of To Let boards is more widespread than ever and, especially as Lumiere is due to return to Durham next November, I hope this is the last year the city will experience an abundance of to let signs.

“We need to put a stop to this once and for all. It is important that Durham remains an attractive and vibrant place to both live and visit.”

Residents in Durham have been campaigning for years to put an end to the widespread use of the advertisements, which typically appear at the start of each academic year.

Previously, landlords had signed up to a voluntary agreement not to put more than one board in a street.

But in recent years this has fallen by the wayside, with landlords regularly flouting the code.

The council agreed to take action this year, following a consultation of local residents.

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

If it comes into force, the new article seven regulation would mean landlords would have to apply to the council for permission to display the boards.

Stephen Reed, the council’s planning development manager, said: “We submitted an application to the Secretary of State for Housing in late June and are hoping to receive a reply in the near future.

“At the moment we have no indication of the timescales involved.”