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APN To Make Submission on Billboards

APN Submission

New Zealand’s largest billboard operator is today (April 19) presenting the Auckland City Council’s Billboards Bylaw hearing with an alternative bylaw that would enable Council to achieve the controls it wants on the city’s visual amenity.

The APN Outdoor alternative bylaw, if adopted, would considerably reduce, if not eliminate the risk of legal challenge faced by the Council’s current proposed bylaw.

The alternative bylaw has been prepared by a highly experienced team of urban planners and designers and environmental law specialists.

It is designed as a comprehensive alternative to proposed harsh new regulations that would effectively ban billboards from large parts of Auckland City and require the removal of the majority of existing billboards.

“We’re presenting Council with a fully-fledged, workable alternative to their tough new regulations,” said APN Outdoor General Manager, Tim Simpkins. “It’s an alternative that would achieve Council’s goals for improving the visual amenity of the city without closing down or significantly damaging the outdoor industry.”

The alternative bylaw has been drafted by a team including vastly experienced urban designer, Barry Rae, a director of Transurban, planning consultant, Craig McGarr a director of Bentley and Co, Brent Harries, a director of the Traffic Design Group, and Simon Berry, a barrister with 25 years’ experience in environmental law.

“We were very disappointed that despite the considerable effort and expense involved in preparing this alternative, none of the suggestions were even mentioned in the Council officer’s report on the content of the more than 1,000 submissions that opposed the bylaw. That officer’s report appeared to give little consideration to the vast weight of opposition to these latest Council proposals for billboards and signs.

“The proposed bylaw draft from Council is so unreasonable as to be unlawful and will face legal challenge if it is adopted in its current form. However, APN has looked at what Council says it wants and applied this high-powered team to drafting an alternative bylaw.”

Among the controls suggested in the alternative bylaw are no new billboards above 30 metres in height and no wall-mounted billboards at street level.

“Our alternative bylaw is both workable and lawful. Council could adopt this draft as is or use it as the basis for development, by a joint working party between Council and the industry. The industry has been requesting a joint approach for some time, without any sign of a response from Council.”

Mr Simpkins said the other key elements of the APN submission dealt with concerns about lack of demand for changes, lack of consultation and a lack of in-depth research on the true economic impacts of the proposals.

“Council’s own initial economic impact of the proposed measures talked about job losses of around 170 and costs of about $5 million. Council’s report has since been revised upwards to almost double the impact to around 300 job losses. APN’s own economic analysis indicates those figures are still well below the true economic cost.

“If a private company made that many lay-offs for economic reasons there would be a huge outcry and that business would be vilified. Council seems prepared to accept that level of economic impact just to get rid of billboards.”

Mr Simpkins said it was only now that Council was engaging in discussions with the industry. The results of public surveys and the weight of submissions showed Council had clearly got the current proposals wrong.

“We are presenting a viable, legal alternative that achieves Council’s goals. I hope they’ll listen to us now.”

NB: The APN submission will be made around 3pm today.

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