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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice

Tourism sign requirements

It is necessary to maintain a flexible approach to tourism signs in order to balance the particular needs of Dorset’s tourism industry with various practical and environmental constraints.

Road hierarchy and tourism signing

Two road networks have been defined which will form the basis for tourism destination signing

  • the strategic network comprises all 'A' and some 'B' roads. All qualifying major attractions will be considered for signing from the nearest point on this network. Signs on trunk roads will only be considered when the attraction meets both the criteria published by the Department for Transport (DfT) regarding signs on their roads and the criteria for signs on local roads contained in this policy. There is a link to DfT criteria in Annex F
  • the tourist network comprises all 'A' and 'B' roads and some 'C' roads. All qualifying smaller attractions and facilities, camping and caravan parks, and local services will be considered for signing from the nearest point on this network. As a guide a major attraction attracts more than 20,000 visitors a year

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Urban areas

For tourism signing, the urban policy will apply in:

  • Beaminster
  • Blandford
  • Bridport
  • Christchurch
  • Dorchester
  • Ferndown
  • Gillingham
  • Lyme Regis
  • Shaftesbury
  • Sherborne
  • Sturminster Newton
  • Swanage
  • Verwood
  • Wareham
  • Weymouth & Portland
  • Wimborne Minster

Urban signing guidelines - general principles

  • in urban areas, comprehensive tourism signing schemes will be implemented. The schemes will be developed in association with the council who will be responsible for identifying those tourist establishments who wish to be signed. Schemes will be reviewed every 3 years with no amendments to signing being undertaken between reviews unless there is significant changes in circumstances e.g. the closure of a signed attraction
  • except where urban attractions or facilities have their own adequate parking, the general presumption will be to sign traffic to the town centre car park(s) with pedestrian signing to and from the tourist facilities. Maximum use will be made of generic signs and local information boards where appropriate

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Rural areas

The rural policy will apply in all other areas.

Whilst comprehensive signing schemes will not generally be necessary in the rural areas, it is nevertheless considered that for some rural communities (eg a recognised tourist resort) comprehensive schemes may still be appropriate. This will include the following locations:

  • Abbotsbury
  • Cerne Abbas
  • Corfe Castle
  • Studland
  • West Lulworth
  • Worth Matravers

Rural signing guidelines - general principles

  • in rural areas, signing to qualifying destinations will normally commence from the nearest point on the strategic or tourist network as appropriate, or from the nearest associated signing community

  • tourism signing proposals which affect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Heritage Coast and the Conservation Areas will be referred to the relevant council for agreement

  • comprehensive signing schemes in the selected rural settlements will be developed in association with the relevant council as for urban schemes

  • it is considered that bypassed community signs are a preferred method of signing groups of rural facilities in a community and should be used wherever possible. Such signs will lessen the environmental impact of signing and individual facility operators will normally benefit from reduced costs. The communities need not necessarily be bypassed as the principle of the signs is considered applicable to all communities

  • the provision of local signing schemes may be appropriate where not all tourist destinations in one area wish to get extensive signing. Such schemes might incorporate:

    • a local information board, and/or

    • supplementary plates for the village names plate

Such local signing schemes will be developed in consultation with parish councils who also may wish to consult local business interests.

Signing may be refused on road safety/traffic management grounds because of siting difficulties and/or signing overload:

  • on all single carriageway roads, and on dual carriageway roads with a speed limit of 40mph or less, there will be a maximum of six tourist destinations at a single junction (less where long names or additional information, including symbols, are incorporated)
  • on dual-carriageways with a speed limit of 50mph or above, the same advice applies except that the number of tourist destinations is reduced to four

To reduce the impact of continuity signing from the initial sign to the tourist destination, or where there are more qualifying tourist destinations than can be accommodated within the above design rules, consideration will be given to the use of "for xxx follow yyy" signage (follow signs) and to the use of generic terms.

Priority will be determined by the relative visitor numbers and distances to the destination.

Establishments with direct access onto the road networks identified above may not justify on-highway signing. However, signing at the entrance may be required on road safety and/or traffic management grounds.

The Department for Transport have prescribed standard symbols as illustrated in Annex G, which represent the most common types of attraction. Other symbols, not included in Annex G, can be used subject to DfT approval. Company logos are unlikely to be approved.

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Determination of Applications

It is important to stress that quality recognition is not a guarantee that tourism signing will be provided. Applications will be considered for each category against the criteria contained in the Annexes within this document.

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Annexes

Annex A - guidelines for the provision of tourism signs to attractions

Examples of attractions include historic houses and castles, steam railways, museums, leisure complexes, gardens and country parks, craft centres and natural attractions.

General criteria

Attractions should meet the definition of a tourist attraction in the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service (VAQAS). An attraction is defined as a permanently established excursion destination, the primary purpose of which is to allow public access for entertainment, interest or education rather than being a primary retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances. It must be open to the public without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists, as well as local residents.

To qualify for signs an attraction must:

  • meet standards required by professional or regulatory organisations appropriate to the attraction and its conduct of business and operation. Written confirmation of those standards will be required. For reasons of their national importance, English Heritage and National Trust properties are exempted from these requirements
  • provide copies of publicity material which should include information on how to get there, and evidence that the facility attracts visitors from outside the area
  • provide an adequate level of visitor facilities appropriate to the size, location and character of the operation. Please note - Attractions registered with VAQAS will have affirmed their observance of these conditions
  • be open to the public throughout the day and for at least 100 days each year
  • not have any advertisement signs at or near the location(s) of the proposed tourism signing
  • for vehicular signing, adequate on-site parking should be available. Where off site parking is provided, this must be within 400 metres of the facility. Signing to other car parks within 400 metres may be agreed subject to written confirmation that this is acceptable to the owner of the car park. Pedestrian signing may be required from any off-site parking

Signing guidelines

Qualifying major attractions, i.e. those attracting more than about 20,000 visitors a year, will be considered for signing from the nearest point on the defined strategic road network.

Qualifying minor attractions will be considered for signing from the nearest point on the defined tourist road network.

The number and size of signs will relate to:

  • the location of the attraction
  • the number of other destinations qualifying for tourism signs in the area
  • local, environmental, traffic management or road safety considerations as described in the road hierarchy and tourism signing section

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Annex B - guidelines for the provision of tourism signs to urban and rural facilities

Examples of facilities include serviced accommodation, pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, garden centres and recreational, entertainment, and sports facilities.

General criteria (appropriate to all facilities)

The applicant must provide evidence of appropriate steps having been taken to publicise the facility and to inform visitors of its location.

There must not be any private advertisement signs related to the facility at or near the location of the proposed tourism traffic sign.

For vehicular signing, adequate on-site parking must be available.

Where off-site parking is provided, this must be within 400m of the facility. Signing to other car parks within 400m of the facility may be agreed subject to written confirmation that this is acceptable to the owner of the car park.

The facility must meet quality standards appropriate to its category, as below.

Specific criteria

Serviced accommodation (such as hotels, B&Bs, guest houses)

To qualify for signs these facilities must meet the general criteria, be open for at least six months of the year and must meet standards required by professional or regulatory organisations appropriate to the facility and its conduct of business and operation. Evidence of this will be required.

Self catering accommodation (such as holiday centres and static holiday caravans)

To qualify for signs, these facilities must meet the general criteria and must meet the necessary quality standards (for self-catering accommodation this is the ETB key system and for static caravan parks, the British Graded Holiday Parks Scheme). Evidence of this will be required.

Public houses

To qualify for signs the facility must meet the general criteria and more specifically must

  • be open to the public throughout the day and for at least 200 days a year
  • offer meals (not just bar snacks) at least at lunchtime and in the evening
  • have a children's certificate, or there should be the ability to accommodate children indoors
  • where overnight accommodation is offered, this should be within the ETB or motoring organisations' quality assurance schemes
Restaurants and cafes

To qualify for signs these facilities must meet the general criteria and more specifically:

  • customers should be able to obtain a meal without pre-booking
  • the facility should be open to the public for at least 200 days each year
  • the facility should be registered under the Food Safety Act and meet standards required by professional or regulatory organisations appropriate to the facility and its conduct of business and operation
Retail (such as shops and garden centres)

The existing council criteria for the signing of supermarkets, and out of town retail parks, using conventional local directional signs are unchanged. There is a general presumption against the signing of these or any other retail establishments using tourism signing unless it can be shown that the facilities are specifically aimed at and for the benefit of tourists or visitors. In the case of garden centres this may include practical demonstrations and show gardens.

Where additional signing of retail outlets is considered to be justified, there will be a presumption in favour of local destination or pedestrian signs displaying generic destinations, for example ‘high street shops.

Recreation, entertainment and sports centres

To include sports facilities, water parks, sailing, racecourses, golf clubs, cinemas, theatre and concert venues.

To qualify for signs these facilities must meet the general criteria and more specifically must:

  • be open to the public for normal opening hours during the appropriate season
  • not have any limitations on use that is based on membership only, or is dependent on pre-booking
  • meet standards required by professional or regulatory organisations appropriate to the facility and its conduct of business and operation
  • provide an adequate level of visitor facilities appropriate to the size, location and character of the operation for example, the provision of changing facilities and toilets

Signing Guidelines

Prior to any signing being provided within the urban areas the council will assess the number of facilities which may wish to be considered for signing to enable a comprehensive scheme to be prepared. This will be subject to regular review at intervals of no less than three years, during which period no amendments to existing signing will normally be undertaken. Exceptions would for example be, where a facility had closed down. Signing will only be provided wholly within the area of the urban settlement.

Tourist facilities in rural areas will normally be signed from the nearest junction on the defined tourist road network or the nearest associated signed community, as appropriate. Within the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Heritage Coast and the conservation areas, the respective departments within the council will be consulted on signing proposals.

Within selected rural settlements such as recognised tourist resorts, comprehensive signing schemes will be progressed. Where vehicular signing is not provided, tourist information points and pedestrian signing will be considered to provide directions to the facility from the nearest car park and/or settlement centre. This is likely to be the norm in environmentally sensitive areas.

Where there are more than six tourist destinations wishing to be signed to any one junction (four on high speed dual carriageways) then those six with the greatest number of visitors shall be signed. If this does not indicate any particular ranking then the six destinations will be chosen on the basis of their proximity to the junction. Wherever possible, “follow” signing will be used on existing signing legends.

Where there are more than three facilities of the same type either in one area, or along a particular route, then generic legends rather than individual ones will be used, for example, ‘seafront hotels’.

Where there is a number of qualifying tourist facilities and/or attractions within a settlement not located on the prescribed network, consideration will be given to the use of composite tourism signing (Diagram 2215 of Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 1994), or to bypassed community signing (Diagram 2328). See also Annex E.

Where there are a number of qualifying tourist facilities and/or attractions) within a settlement which do not necessarily wish to seek extensive signing, consideration will be given to the provision of a local signing scheme, in consultation with parish councils, incorporating a local information board and supplementary village name plates as appropriate.

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Annex C - guidelines for the provision of tourism signing to camping and caravan parks

This signing is intended to assist touring caravans and campers seeking casual overnight or short stays. It is not intended for pre-booked clients.

General Criteria

To qualify for signs a site must fulfil all the following criteria:

  • have planning permission and be licensed under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and/or the Public Health Act 1936
  • meet standards required by professional or regulatory organisations appropriate to the facility and its conduct of business and operation, for example the British Graded Holiday Parks Scheme and any environmental or design standards or schemes in locally adopted management plans
  • have a minimum of 20 pitches available for casual overnight use by touring caravans
  • be located where traffic flows generated by signing will be appropriate to the local road network and/or local communities

Signing guidelines

Parks will normally be signed no further than two miles from the nearest road which forms part of the tourist network or from the nearest signed settlement.

Only the touring camping and/or caravan symbol(s) will appear on a sign, with a distance.

Park names may be included on signs

  • in close proximity to the site
  • if there is a possibility of confusion because two or more parks are close together
  • where parks signed from the same junction lie in different directions

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Annex D - guidelines for the signing of leisure drives

Tourism signs are provided for the benefit of visitors who wish to follow, aided by an explanatory leaflet, interesting circular rural routes.

Criteria

A publicity leaflet must be published and made readily available to visitors. The leaflet will contain a description of the route in detail, a history of the communities on or adjacent to the route and draw attention to interesting features, facilities and services.

The route should generally be in an anti-clockwise direction to minimise the number of right turning manoeuvres.

The route should be along roads which are not heavily trafficked main roads, minor roads which could not take additional traffic, or roads in urban areas.

There should be adequate facilities along the route such as toilets, picnic areas, car parks, restaurants, viewpoints etc.

The leisure drive must have the support of the local communities through which the route passes. Extensive consultation will be required, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.)

The length of the leisure drive should be between 25 and 50 miles.

Signing guidelines

Routes and signing requirements will be determined by the council in the light of each specific proposal. Approvals may be subject to the applicant agreeing to route amendments.

The council will approve the leaflet prior to preparing a detailed signing scheme.

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Annex E - guidelines for the signing of local services

Tourism signs are used to inform drivers on the strategic or tourist road network of the availability of basic services, during normal working hours, in a nearby community.

Criteria

The community must offer adequate public parking and public toilets (both clearly signed within the community); public cash-operated telephone; fuel and refreshments at least during the normal working hours throughout the year, including public holidays. Where fuel is available on the main road this facility may be excluded.

The community must be within three miles of the road from which the services would be signed, and be the first community reached after leaving that road. Adequate confirmatory and return-route signing must be provided.

The signs are not for use where it could reasonably be expected that, because of its size the community offers a full range of services. As a guide, towns and a population over 10,000 would not normally be signed.

Guidelines

There must be no detriment to road safety, traffic management or the environment resulting from the encouragement of service seeking traffic.

Encouragement of this traffic must be acceptable to the local community as a whole to be determined by the appropriate parish council.

If a community has within it a tourist destination(s) which qualifies for tourism signing this may be included on the sign.

A phrase, giving a brief description referring to the nature of the community, historical connections or geographic features, may be included. The phrase will not exceed three words.

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