Belfast City Council has produced a report on its plans to seek the removal of estate agent signage in the Stranmillis, Queen's and Holyland areas, which it says have "a negative, visual impact on both amenity and townscape character".

In 2017, the Council launched a project to seek authority from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to restrict the display of letting boards in the university area.

It seeks to serve direction to landlords under planning legislation which would allow it to restrict "deemed consent" for the boards.

In its report to Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, Belfast City Council notes that the "bustling student community" in the Stranmillis, Queen's and Holyland areas "contributes enormously to the character and economic wellbeing of the area". However, it states that the large number of students living in properties for less than a year "has also led to a large number of letting boards advertising the availability of single rooms, apartments and houses".

"The number of letting boards being displayed has increased in recent years to such an extent that, when coupled with density of housing and the nature of short-term tenancies, it is not unusual to see letting boards on many of the houses for most of the year, which consequently has a negative, visual impact on both amenity and townscape character," the report notes.

The Council says that current legislation allows councils to remove deemed consent for the display of letting boards where they cause "substantial injury to the amenity of the locality". 

"As with other university towns and cities such as Cardiff, Newcastle and Nottingham, Belfast City Council considers that the removal of deemed consent is essential to help revitalise the affected areas," the report goes on.

The Department for Infrastructure has invited the Council to make a formal request to act on existing legislation, which will allow it to act for an initial period of 10 years.