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Allowing temporary signs for promoting farmers’ markets

Comment 15th July 2010
Amending the planning legislation which currently prevents farmers' markets from displaying signs to promote their markets.  Better promotion leads to more popular and better attended markets which are both good for the farmers and producers who attend but also the local community where the market is based.

Why does this matter?

It's a real pain for farmers' markets that officially they are not allowed to display temporary signs. We know from Retail HealthChecks (which FARMA undertakes with the Plunkett Foundation) that signs is the most important way of letting customers know about markets – way ahead of adverts, websites etc.  As many markets run once a month only it's crucial to be able to let customers know when the market is on – Not everyone is good at figuring out which is the 3rd Sunday of the month while driving.
 
There is legislation covering outdoor signing which allows circuses and charity events to display temporary signs – but not farmers' markets.  Some councils are really hot on tearing down farmers' market signs whereas some councils are more supportive and turn a blind eye.  We spent a lot of time working with West Oxfordshire Council, when my colleague worked with Thames Valley Farmers' Markets Co-operative, arriving at a solution that satisfied the Economic Development Officer (very pro farmers' markets) and the Planning Officers (very anti any temporary signs). BUT many farmers' markets won't have the resources (time or money) to fight these kind of battles.
 
My main concern was always if circuses can do it why can't farmers' markets? Surely farmers' markets contribute more to the local economy etc.?
 
There are  government guidance notes referring to this issue in a publication which you should be able to access at http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/326679.pdf 
 
Page 16 of the booklet (page 17 of the pdf document) covers Class 3 – temporary signs. The bit about circuses is Class 3(F)
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