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Consultation on proposed signs and billboard rules



15 December 2006

Consultation on proposed signs and billboard rules

Auckland City Council has voted to put new draft signs and billboards bylaws out for public consultation in the new year.

The proposed bylaws introduce tighter restrictions and new provisions for the size and placement of signs and billboards in the city.

The council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee chairperson, Councillor Glenda Fryer, says the proposed bylaws meet the needs of a city focused on good urban design.

She says they were developed following extensive research and consultation with representatives in the signs and billboards industry.

“The council worked with major stakeholders in the industry to ensure that we balanced their needs with the need to enhance the natural and built environment of our city.

“These bylaws are about showcasing the city’s character, heritage and geography so these assets are not swamped or overwhelmed by enormous advertising hoardings.

“Auckland is a rapidly changing and growing city and the draft bylaws reflect a move to reduce visual pollution and visual clutter.”

Ms Fryer acknowledges that the draft bylaws could mean significant changes for the signs and billboards industry and encourages those affected to participate in the consultation process.

“We want feedback on what is proposed and we’re keen to hear from all interested parties,” Ms Fryer says.

The two proposed bylaws include the following new provisions and restrictions.

Key changes for the signs bylaw include:

- all signs above verandas to be prohibited

- signage for each business is to be limited to an area based on the street frontage that the business occupies and a selection of specified approved sign types

- removal of all savings provision so that all signs will have to comply with the new bylaw within 18 months of the bylaw coming into effect.

Key changes for the billboards bylaw include:

- all free-standing billboards are prohibited in the central area

- billboards on buildings in the central area will be prohibited in significant pedestrian areas, such as the Queen Street Valley, but will be allowed elsewhere in the CBD

- removal of all savings provisions so that all billboards must comply with the new bylaw within 18 months of it coming into effect or 12 months in high amenity areas covered by the centre plans or character overlays.

Ms Fryer says there will still be plenty of opportunity for billboards to be displayed in the CBD because it is only part of the CBD that is banned to all billboards.

She says other cities around the world have adopted a similar tough line on billboards.

“Billboards are banned or strictly controlled in the central business districts of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. A ban from the Queen Street Valley area of the central business district brings Auckland in line with other international cities,” Ms Fryer says.

In the United States, an estimated 1500 cities and even some states (such as Vermont, Maine and Hawaii) have banned billboards. Other cities have capped the number of billboards or have applied strict regulations to control their use.

Ms Fryer says the council has allowed a generous amount of time for all signs and billboards to comply with the new rules in recognition of the fact that the changes are significant.

“We understand that these new rules may require significant changes for some businesses, so to ensure these are as painless as possible, there will be plenty of time for registered billboards that do not comply with the new bylaw will be removed or be made compliant,”

Ms Fryer says consultation with the signs and billboards industry has proved useful in developing the draft bylaw.

That consultation involved a signs working party made up of elected representatives and a signs advisory group. The advisory group was made up of members from of the Urban Design Panel, an art critic, a Mainstreet manager, a representative from both the signs and billboards industries and a retired community board chairperson and signs spokesperson.

The group’s number one finding was that ”the number of signs/billboards and their cumulative size and hence visual impact” was a major issue that needed to be addressed.

In addition, Ms Fryer says, “Two meetings were held with representatives from the billboards industry and three meetings with representatives from the signs industry. Their concerns were listened to and taken into account for both the proposed bylaws.”

The draft bylaws are open for submissions from the public from 15 January to 2 March 2007. Copies of the draft bylaws and submission forms are available at:

- Auckland City’s service centre at 35 Graham Street, central city

- level 11, Civic Building, 1 Greys Avenue, central city

- the council’s website at www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/bylaws

- all Auckland City libraries.

Under the Local Government Act 2002, Auckland City Council is required to review each of its 30 bylaws before July 2008 to make sure they keep pace with the city’s changing needs.

For details of Auckland City’s current bylaws, visit www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/bylaw.


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