Drive for vibrancy

• Nestled in jungle land, this large PrimeWest sign will bring this fair city light, adding “interest and vibrancy to the city’s night skyline” according to the proponent.

THE ad-happy commissioners running Perth council have set a precedent allowing more giant billboards in the city.

On October 29 commissioners Len Kosova and Andrew Hammond approved an 11.5-metre LED sign on Hay Street facing the Mitchell Freeway, ignoring a recommendation from planning staff it would blot views of the Parliament House district, and concerns from Main Roads it might distract drivers.

Previously, Perth’s elected councillors have been wary about billboards, not wanting to turn the city into an ad-ridden Blade Runner megalopolis (the 1982 film was set in November 2019, so the approval came just in time for us to be living in the future).

Public space

The council’s signage policy, updated in 2017, only calls for commercial billboards where they’ll face “public space” with lots of pedestrians and where it will increase “vibrancy”.

In the lead-up to the vote, AD Billboards shot commissioners a letter from its own planning experts, which said the Hay Street sign would add “interest and vibrancy to the city’s night skyline”. The letter pointed out there were other signs facing the freeway.

It also cited the precedent of a sign commissioners approved in October last year at 190 Aberdeen Street in Northbridge, which was similarly opposed by planning staff.

The commissioners had felt the billboard would “add vibrancy and amenity to the city”.

A list of conditions were attached to the Hay Street approval. The minutes haven’t been released yet, but standard conditions require the ads to stick around for at least 45 seconds so they’re not flickering at drivers, they can’t have anything that’d be confused for a traffic signal or warning, and have to default to an entirely black screen if there’s a malfunction or unauthorised content.

That’s likely in response to the April 2018 incident where hackers displayed porn on two small screens in Yagan Square.


Baysy opts out

IN less billboard-friendly Bayswater, the encroachment of ads has been staved off with the help of the State Administrative Tribunal.

It recently affirmed the council’s decision to reject a whopper 18.5m tall LED sign on Wicks Street.

In February, Bayswater council said no to landowner Bayswater Industrial Estate’s plan to put up the two-sided sign, which would’ve been a big earner since it faced both directions of traffic on Tonkin Freeway.

The land isn’t zoned for advertising, and in any case the sign was too big; 84sqm on either side was far larger than the 22sqm allowed by council rules.

BIE appealed to the SAT, but the tribunal sided with the council in a double-whammy smackdown delivered October 31.

The tribunal found signs weren’t allowed there under council rules, and added that even if they had erred on that point the billboard would have been an eyesore and a risk to traffic safety.

“This section of Tonkin Highway is a moderately complex road environment which requires decisions about multiple manoeuvres in a high speed environment,” the SAT’s judgement found.

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