Temporary Signs to Special Events

Event organisers must apply to Surrey Highways if they wish to put up temporary signs to special events on the public highway. These signs are to help drivers find the event and are not for advertising purposes.

If your event has already been given permission by another authority, this does not authorise you to put up signs on the public highway and you will still need to apply.

This page has guidance on how to submit an application, the circumstances in which we may approve or reject an application, and our conditions.

When will we approve signs to temporary events?

We may permit temporary traffic signs to events where substantial extra traffic is generated, causing congestion or a possible road safety hazard.

A substantial amount is considered to be more than 400 vehicles per day attending the event. We may consider a lower number in exceptional circumstances.

Event organisers should also be able to clearly demonstrate that they will provide parking to accommodate the expected visitor numbers. This should be on site or very close to the venue.

When are signs unlikely to be approved?

In some cases, we are unlikely to approve temporary signs. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • If a venue is used for regular events of a differing nature (more than 12 times a year)
  • If a venue is used for similar events on a regular basis (more than six times a year)
  • Car boot sales, village fetes or other similar events
  • For events that have an invited clientele or are pre-purchase ticket access only, such as weddings or concerts
  • New facilities such as a superstore or a shopping centre. If signs would alleviate congestion or address road safety concerns, a request may be considered for a maximum period of three months.
  • We do not permit temporary signs for new housing developments.

Application process

How: To submit an application, please complete and return our application form found at the bottom of this page. There is no charge for this service.

When: Please send this to us at least six weeks before the event. If we receive an application within one month of the proposed event date, we cannot guarantee that it will be processed in time.

What happens next: When we receive your application, we will consider the need and justification for temporary traffic signs using the guidance on this page and we will provide a response within 28 days.

Please only submit an application for temporary signs which you plan to put up on roads in Surrey. We are unable to give authorisation for any signs which you plan to put up in adjoining counties, even if it is for the same event.

The only exemptions to this application process relate to Police signs. Under Section 67 of the Road Traffic Act 1984, the Police have powers to place signs on the highway for up to 7 days.

Other conditions

  • Temporary signs will be permitted in agreed locations 48 hours before the start of the event and must be removed within 48 hours after it has ended. If the event lasts longer than two weeks, we will consider the requests if there are exceptional circumstances
  • Where a venue is being used for more than one event at the same time, approach signing shall identify the venue only. If separate access points are used, these can be signed
  • The number of signs should be kept to a minimum, while allowing drivers unfamiliar with the area to find the event
  • For certain events it may be best to sign a route for traffic leaving a venue so conflicting movements or congestion can be avoided
  • Organisers are encouraged to use the services provided by the motoring organisations or approved contractors wherever possible
  • Responsible organisers may be given approval to install their own temporary signing but they must show evidence of public liability insurance for £10 million
  • Signs installed without authority, or in contravention of conditions imposed as part of any application approval, will be removed. Please see our webpage about reclaiming removed property from the highway

Criteria for sign design and location

If we agree to temporary signs, they must meet our specification as follows:

  • The sign must have black text on a yellow background
  • Signs should use standard wording where possible. The list shown on the application form is not exhaustive but gives an indication for suitable wording
  • The size of sign is dictated by the size of the lettering required to enable the wording to be read from vehicles travelling at the speed limit. The table on the application form provides recommended 'x-heights' with siting and visibility distances. In exceptional circumstances the County Council may request a different size
  • The signs must be located in accordance with the principles set out in the current Department for Transport (DfT) Traffic Signs Manual, securely attached to suitable posts or existing sign posts, or on appropriately secured "A" frames
  • A separate licence is needed to attach any items to Street lighting columns. Please see our webpage on attaching items to street lights for further information on how to apply
  • The use of traffic signals and illuminated bollards is forbidden
  • Temporary signs must not obscure any part of other signs fixed to the same post
  • Any fixings must attach the sign securely to its support and must not damage the protective coating on the post or lighting column when appropriate. Any damage that does occur must be repaired at the organiser's expense
  • Signs must never be attached to posts that already support any of the following signs:
    • Give Way
    • Stop
    • No Entry
    • Speed Restriction
  • Other posts which support regulatory signs should be avoided where there is a risk of confusing or distracting the driver
  • The outer edge of the sign should be set back at least 450mm from the carriageway edge, and at least 600mm where there is a cross fall
  • On high-speed dual carriageway roads the clearance should be at least 1200mm
  • Where signs are mounted above or project over the footway or areas readily accessible to pedestrians, the lower edge of the sign should not be less than 2.15m from the ground (2.4m on a cycleway)
  • Special care must be taken not to obstruct sight lines for vehicles emerging from side roads or private entrances
  • The safety of horse riders using the verge must also be considered

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