VINCENT council looks likely to stick to its ‘no billboards’ rule, with a seven-month battle over a giant screen soon to come to a head.
The proposed 82 square metre sign at the 12 Newcastle Street office building would likely have a far easier time getting approved if it was just across the street in the more sign-friendly City of Perth boundaries, where billboards have been approved in recent years on the basis they add vibrancy. But Vincent’s no billboards rule has been almost entirely unchanged for two decades, as the advertising is deemed to be “impinging on views and vistas, creating visual clutter, and detracting from the amenity of an area”.
Billboards can bring in thousands of dollars a week and advertisers have been trying to convince the council to change its policy for years. Even former neighbouring Perth lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi once made the point that billboards are part of what makes a city, after Vincent council knocked back a sign on one of her properties.
The council first refused a slightly bigger version of the Newcastle Street billboard in March, backed up by Main Roads which didn’t want a potential driver-distracter so close to the entrance to the Graham Farmer freeway tunnel.
The building owner Dorado Property hired lawyers, town planners, a traffic consultant, a drone operator to take aerial photos to show the sign wouldn’t block views, and appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal.
After SAT mediation, Vincent council staff still aren’t keen, advising councillors to stick to the rule when they vote at the next meeting.
Dorado’s representative, Adbrands Media manager Lou Di Florio, told this week’s Vincent briefing that council had discretion to approve it, and that in return they’d plant 10 street trees and offer Vincent one out of 10 ads in the rotating lineup to promote the council and community events.
He pointed out “the digital screen is smaller than the size of signage on the neighbouring building [on the] opposite side of Newcastle Street,” which is over in Perth council’s domain.
There are a few billboards around Vincent, approved when the City of Perth was in charge of the area before Vincent existed.
Dorado bought the building in early February for $24 million, saying in a press statement at the time the asset was “well placed to benefit from the recovery in Perth’s office market”.
By DAVID BELL