Advertising Signs

Advertising Signs


Did you know that a planning permit is required to display many kinds of advertising signs?

Advertising sign controls are specific to the planning zones and overlays that apply to the land. The signage allowances for commercial and industrial areas are generally less restrictive than for sensitive areas such as residential zones.

Points to Remember

  • A sign is defined as “An advertisement and any structure built specifically to support it”. This can include an advertisement in a window that can be readily seen from outside.
  • There are some types of signs that don’t require a planning permit, including a number of temporary signs such as for sale signs.
  • A temporary a-frame sign on a footpath or nature strip requires permission from the local laws department of the Council rather than a planning permit. This is a separate process and each Council has different rules around displaying a-frame signs.

Advertising sign applications are often done as a combined planning application with the use or development of the land. However, if the owner is unsure what signage they want or if they want to consider that later it can be done as a separate application down the track.

A few years ago the advertising sign controls were changed to allow exclusions relating to existing signage. A lawfully approved sign can be renewed or replaced without requiring a planning permit, as long as the location and size of the sign remain the same. This means that if a company changes their brand, needs to replace a damaged sign or if a new tenant occupies a building the signage can be replaced without the need to get planning permission. It is important to note that this only applies to lawfully approved signs, so you should check with the council that the sign has been approved before replacing it. If the council have no record of it being approved, you will need to apply for a planning permit for it.

Information Required for a Planning Application

The council will need some details on your proposal in order to assess the application.  They need to know:

  • The size and height of the sign.
  • The details to be displayed on the sign (in colour).
  • The location of the sign.
  • Any details on supporting structures or internal or external illumination.
  • How the signage fits in with the area and the local planning policies.

If more than one sign is proposed, each sign should be separately detailed. You may need to hire a draftsperson to draw up plans showing the proposed signage. For fairly simple applications you may be able to use some design software to add the signage to photographs of the building to represent your proposal instead.

Many councils have developed signage policies to provide guidance on the type of advertising signs that they prefer in different areas. The policies may include details on the preferred size, height or number of signs. The policies can also give guidance on other details such whether illumination is allowed and the types of signs that are encouraged. Your signage application should include an assessment against any signage policies.

If you aren’t sure if your signage proposal will be supported you can discuss your proposal with the council or a private town planner to get some initial advice. If in doubt it is best to limit the total number of signs for a business. Councils tend to prefer one/two main signs rather than several smaller signs which might appear to clutter the site.