FORESTS of ‘to let’ and ‘for sale’ signs could become a thing of the past in Southampton.

Southampton City Council will meet today to discuss adopting strict new guidelines on their use in the city.

Liberal Democrat group leader Adrian Vinson has put forward the motion in which he urges the council to recognise the concerns in areas of the city with large numbers of the boards.

The Portswood councillor urges the council to “recognise the concerns of residents in many parts of the city at the forest of ‘to let’, ‘for sale’ and ‘sold by’ boards and posters, left in place for considerable periods of time, which is blighting neighbourhoods.”

He adds that “in the age of the Internet, such signs are no longer the principal means of attracting tenants.”

Cllr Vinson is urging council bosses to adopt a regulation seven direction under town and country planning regulations, which are already used in other cities, including Brighton. That would mean anyone wanting to put up a board would have to ask the council first.

He also wants the city council to adopt a lettings board code, similar to that adopted by Leeds City Council, which features a list of restrictions and regulations on the use of boards.

The move has been supported by some residents’ associations in the city.

John Hayward, chairman of the Outer Avenue Residents’ Association says the boards are a “big problem” in his area, and says he recently spotted 53 signs on Gordon Avenue and 31 on Alma Road.

He said: “More than 50 per cent of houses in our area are Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), largely for students, and we have huge numbers of letting and estate agent boards outside houses – sometimes there are boards on top of boards.

“They are an eyesore and they bring the area down.”

Lorraine Barter, from the Polygon Residents Action group, said: “I can understand that some people find them unsightly and it puts off families from coming to the HMO-dominated areas.”

But Savill’s estate agent George Long believes any changes would make life harder for estate agents across the region.

He said: “If you are coming out of a recession you need as much interest as you can get in property. If suddenly you’re going to take away every for sale sign you’re going to severely restrict the housing market.

“Some people don’t use the Internet to find out about an area. They come into town and they see the signs they make enquiries about the area.”