Mayor gives ground as business fights back on signs policy
NOOSA businesses have successfully lobbied the council to extend its public consultation on a proposed new signage policy as traders fear the flagged changes would send some businesses to the wall.
A day after about 75-80 Noosaville Business Association members met to vent their ire at what they label a "one size fits all” approach and a lack of meaningful consultation, two business leaders on Wednesday were calling for council to revisit the policy.
NBA president Joel Laventure and Hastings Street Association president Emma Hull wanted the council to extend Friday's July 26 deadline for signage public submissions and engage directly with business groups for a "workable outcome”.
Their three main points is the perceived lack of consultation with businesses, a one size signage policy does not fit all and the economic consequences it's going to have across the shire.
And late Wednesday afternoon, the Noosa Council obliged. Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said council will extend the consultation on the draft signage laws by two weeks and also facilitating more meetings with key business groups.
"It is just a draft at this stage and as part of the community engagement process, we really wanted to hear from our community about the proposals,” the mayor said.
"We appreciate there is strong opinion on certain aspects of the proposals, so extending the consultation period until August 9 and facilitating more meetings with our key business groups is a reasonable response,” the mayor said.
"We have heard the request for an extension to the consultation period and we are happy to comply, to ensure that everyone who wants to have a say can do so,” Cr Wellington said.
Earlier in the day Ms Hull said: "We have so many businesses closing in the shire at the moment and we have a council that is honestly coming across as not recognising the business needs in the shire,” Ms Hull said.
"You have to have a policy that looks after the whole food chain and it's not looking after the whole food chain.
"These economic changes will economically destroy some businesses, particularly the ones (in) Gibson Rd in that area. They're obviously listening to one area of the community that has complained about it,” she said.
Mr Laventure said: "It's not a council bashing (exercise). We will spend the time and work with the council to represent the big number of business owners,” he said.
"We think there's something workable out there, let's get together. There are plenty of good suggestions (from business) that are workable. Given the impact is felt on business and they're the ones who'd be funding it.”
He said the group wants to know how many complaints have driven the current council signage audit and from what sector.
Mr Laventure said if there were a resounding number complaining "that would be fair enough”, but if there was only a handful then the reforms are not justified.
Mayor Wellington said the proposals are not substantially different to the historical approach to signage, "with the exception of a suggested new approach to real estate pointer signs, tear drops flags and A-frames”.
"There is also a suggestion to establish a registration fee for businesses. This is aimed at partial cost recovery so that residents aren't footing the bill for compliance checks on business signage,” he said.
"The current proposal is for this registration fee to be waived for compliant businesses initially and then a renewal process and fee introduced in the 2020-2021 financial year. But this is all up to council determination based on consideration of the submissions received.”
"We are very happy to facilitate further consultation sessions with our key business representative groups to find a workable solution that meets a range of needs.
"Signage is currently regulated through both the planning scheme and the local laws. Our aim is to migrate the planning scheme elements into local laws. For some businesses, this will ultimately be cheaper, because they won't have to make a development application to deal with signage matters.”
"One of Noosa's iconic features is its subdued, low key approach to signage. That is an important identifying feature of Noosa which supports the Noosa brand.
Like avoidance of other big city symbols, our intrinsic approach to visual amenity underpins our tourism industry and is an adjunct to the success of all Noosa-based businesses.” Cr Wellington said.