MARKETING: City's New Billboard Rules
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The City of Cape Town is to introduce a new outdoor advertising by-law, which controls all outdoor advertising such as shop signs, posters and billboards.
According to Alderman Brian Watkyns, Chairperson of the Planning and Environment Portfolio Committee (PEPCO), the new Outdoor Advertising By-law will strike a balance between outdoor advertising opportunities, economic growth and Cape Town’s unique environmental and cultural heritage assets.
It is the product of several years of wide consultation with all the sectors which may be affected by the by-law. In 1999, the Cape High Court ordered the municipality to amend its outdoor advertising by-law to allow third party advertising, but also restrict such advertisers to protect Cape Town’s rich environment. Accordingly, a by-law was put in place in Cape Town in 2000, and extended metro wide in 2001, and this has now been reworked and updated.
“Although the City has allowed third party advertising, the new by-law will provide greater clarity on this issue. Besides allowing for greater flexibility, the by-law also balances the freedom of expression with the conservation of the metropole’s rich natural and cultural heritage,” says Alderman Watkyns.
“Recent radio talk shows in Cape Town have highlighted the increasing pressure on Cape Towns’ unique character that is becoming visible from increased illegal signage. We want to arrest this trend.
“One of Cape Town’s strongest wealth creators is its tourism industry. People flock to our city because of its natural beauty and historical cultural heritage. The City needs to protect this beauty, which generates income and stimulates job creation in our local economy.
“The new by-law has been discussed with all relevant sectors and we have received some 4 000 comments which have each been individually worked through and considered over a series of 25 working sessions. The inputs came from community organisations, individuals, ratepayers groups, industry representatives and non-profit bodies, and the City is extremely grateful for all the comments submitted. The outcome of the working sessions have been summarised and responded to in a ‘Public comments & response’ document. The evaluation of these comments will be incorporated in the final version to be considered by the City.
The Outdoor Advertising and Signage By-law defines the areas of maximum control such as scenic and natural areas, rural areas and sensitive urban conservation areas such as the Long Street architectural heritage area. Other defined areas include urban commercial areas of partial control and minimum control such as in industrial areas.
The type of signs, which are not regulated by the by-law, include road traffic signs, official election posters, aircraft signs and indoor signs.
In terms of the by-law, there are new opportunities for Non-Profit Organisation signs of all types and a wide range of smaller signs given as deemed up front approval.
Also, backlit billboards and theatre posters will now be more easily allowed. Newspapers must register and can apply for headline posters to be displayed in fixed frames.
Along with this latitude, there is a clearer control on potential negative impacts in sensitive environmental and heritage precincts and clear opportunities for communities and volunteers to participate.
The new by-law maintains the prohibition on sky signs in the CBD, on towers, silos, pylons and gantries. Freestanding super billboards bigger than 36m² will still not be allowed.
“This by-law was created to permit outdoor adverting in a controlled manner and to ensure that Cape Town retains its unique character and protects the broader public interests. Damage to public property is also a problem. Each time an event organiser pastes an illegal poster on traffic control boxes or electricity boxes, municipal workers or contractors have to remove them. An electricity box which malfunctions because of a poster blocking its air vents can cost up to R52 000 to repair,” says Ald Watkyns.
The City is in the process of appointing an additional 13 environmental control officers to enforce the by-law, assisted by Metro Police, Law Enforcement and Traffic Services. The new by-law contains stricter enforcement provisions and penalties.
In an attempt to give all interested parties another opportunity to give comment on the final draft PEPCO has requested the relevant City department to arrange an open day and after PEPCO will discuss the outcome before its goes to Council for approval.
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