Noosa's sign audit it proving costly to more than one business.
Noosa's sign audit it proving costly to more than one business.

Sign busts by council all adding up

SIGNAGE “sins” of the past are now catching out businesses to the tunes of thousands of dollars in Noosa, according to one Noosaville store owner who feels he’s being treated too harshly.

And he has the support of Councillor Jess Glasgow who is no fan of the costlier consequences of council’s signage audit.

The offending store owner who asked not to be named said: “Time’s being wasted in this whole exercise.”

“I totally understand the visual pollution thing, I totally understand that it should be recognised and sorted out.

“We have a sign outside the front of our business that doesn’t comply, I know that and agree with that, because it’s not fixed to the fascia of the building. It’s on a frame because we don’t have fascia.”

However that technicality looks like costing him a good deal of his yearly profits.

“We had a quote just to pull it down and it was just astronomical.”

He said it would cost “north of $5000” just to “chuck that in to landfill … it’s about to be 2020 for god’s sake, let’s move forward”.

The owner said there needs to be new laws on sign controls, but Noosa stores are now paying for not being aware of the existing restrictions, with one neighbouring coffee shop owner he spoke to this week “ropeable about what’s going on”.

“There’s got to be some sort of sensibility about this,” he said.

The owner said his business has been operating for almost 20 years including through “the GFC when we could have shut down”.

“We’ve had complaints from people saying they couldn’t find our business because of the original signage on it, and that sign’s been up for something like eight or nine years.

“So it’s not something that I’ve just bunged up recently.

“That sort of annoys me, that it’s taken this long for someone to knock on the door and go you don’t comply.

“Ignorance is not innocence, but you never really thought about what council compliance was because you drove around town and every sign was as big or bigger,” he said.

Cr Jess Glasgow said he has been speaking to businesses that are spending $5000 to $10,000 to move their signs 200ml.

The councillor has spoken to this owner and “I don’t think it’s an eyesore”.

“Noosa’s underpinned by its sign policy and this is what makes it so unique,” he said.

“But these small businesses are the lifeblood of the community.

“We’re actioning something on our community which I feel we’ve actually got wrong,” Cr Glasgow said.

He said the council’s own audit to date had found there was at least an 85 per cent compliance and “they’re really not finding that Noosa’s overrun with signage.”

Cr Glasgow said where these noncomplying businesses are just displaying their goods for sale, the main criteria should be: “is this visual clutter”.

He said it should be up to council to say “look, let’s work around it, but we don’t want it to go any bigger or smaller”.

“In my opinion, the people have spoken and the sign issue is not out of control right now, yes it needs to be managed and it still needs to be managed into the future,” Cr Glasgow said.

Council’s acting environment and sustainable development director Kerri Coyle said Noosa’s local laws and the planning scheme clearly set out the size, type and number of signs each business is allowed.

“If a building does not have a fascia for signage, there are a number of other signage options for businesses including wall signs, window signs, below-awning signs, vertical sign, blind sign etc.

“It’s important all businesses play by the rules to make it fair for everyone and prevent a profusion of signage across the shire.

“Many large signs competing for attention is rarely helpful. It makes it harder for people to identify one business’s sign over another and the visual clutter you end up with erodes the area’s character and beauty,” Ms Coyle said.

She said staff are working with businesses that have noncomplying signs to help them play by the same rules as everyone else.

“We provide an information pack that explains the requirements, and in many cases where their signage doesn’t comply, we are allowing business owners up to six or 12 months to make the necessary changes.

“When every business follows the rules, it’s fairer for everyone and helps stop the creep of noncomplying signs that we’ve seen in some areas,” Cr Coyle said.

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