Digital Signs Reveal Auckland Council to Review Signage Bylaw

Wednesday 27 March 2019, 6:35PM
By Beckie Wright

Since 26 May 2015 Auckland Council (that covers the wider Auckland region from Pokeno to Puhoi) has controlled the way signs go up in the area via the Signage Bylaw 2015. This Bylaw controls the way Real Estate agents put out their signs to promote open homes in the area, ladder boards showing what tenants are in a high-rise building, and all the way through to outdoor way finding and advertising signs.


Dave Jaques is a director of Digital Signs and Digital Advertising and a former litigation lawyer. He is also one of the members forming a panel to meet with the Council to review the current Bylaw to ascertain whether it is an appropriate way to control the way signs are erected as we go into more modern times.


Most people do not know that a “sign” is a something that only advertises your product, whereas a “billboard” is something that advertises other people’s products. It may be an academic difference to most of us but at present the law has the two categories. While you could put up a ‘sign’ fairly easily, you needed to apply for Resource Consent to erect a ‘billboard’.


The Signage Bylaw 2015 does not cover billboards but Dave believes it should. A lot of the large corporates (particularly new car dealerships) are actually putting up signs that are 6x3m to advertise their own product (a size previously only ever seen when being used as a billboard). Dave said to the average member of the public there is no difference between seeing a large sign that might for example advertise Ford cars on Ford premises and a similar sign advertising (say) a Sky television programme (that would count as a billboard).


As Dave has been attending Council meetings on the rules for signs he has been very concerned that the rules going forward properly categorise LED displays (signs made up of a bright LED dot matrix) and that the Council does not fall into the trap of thinking LED displays are somehow something to be cautious about.


Digital Signs completed a research exercise in early 2018 and requested copies of all applications, and the outcome, for all LED signs from all major councils in New Zealand. The common thread coming out of all of these applications is that providing a digital billboard does not distract a motorist then they are safe to use in all locations. Distraction has generally been defined as prohibiting video, keeping ads on for 8 seconds and making sure they change from one ad to another in under 1 second (ie no ‘transitions’).


As well as dwell times Dave put forward a recommendation that the current brightness level of 5,000 cd/m2 needs to be changed to be a percentage relevant to the current light levels. Dave says the brightness of signs should be set to (say) plus/minus 10-20% of the current surrounding light levels.


Finally, and probably the most significant change proposed by the Team at Digital Signs, is that signs and billboards should be controlled together under the Unitary Plan and not via a bylaw. Bylaws are usually only used for short term regulatory matters and any challenge to them is via Judicial Review to the High Court which is disproportionate to someone wanting to get a different outcome to their application to put a sign up and having been refused.


If you require more details or which to be kept informed on the Auckland Council review of the Signage Bylaw 2015 please feel free to contact Dave direct on +64 274 715 734 or via email and to find out more about LED signage, billboards NZ and digital signage please to to .