Proposed by-laws could over-complicate outdoor advertising


Several of the rulings in the recently proposed Cape Town City Councils by laws for outdoor advertising and signage could complicate and over-regulate the whole advertising process, said Bill Rawson, Chairman of Rawson Properties, last week.

'Almost all estate agencies agree that the vision behind the new by-laws is entirely positive,' said Rawson. 'It aims, as the preamble explains, to strike a balance between outdoor advertising which, we all know, has proven economic benefits and visual, environmental, heritage and traffic safety concerns. However this vision will be negated if aspects of the by-laws are seen by estate agents to be discriminatory'

Rawson said that it seems to him unfair that certain laws will be difficult to implement and certain actions will call for written approval. Rawson mentioned especially that

· A small three-unit development would be granted the same size signage as, say, a 250-unit project. Developers of larger projects would be allowed to apply for extra signage, but getting this was likely to be costly in time and money.

· Developers or estate agencies have to get permission to include on their signboards third party advertising, e.g. for banks, conveyancers and agents. However, said Rawson, the buying public need to know the names and telephone numbers of all support services on their project.

· The allowed sizes of the boards (0,2m2 in areas of maximum control and 2m2 in areas of total control) are too small to impart information quickly and easily to those driving past. This, said Rawson, could lead to their making unsafe stops at the roadside.

· Show house boards may not be used to direct people to properties. Such boards, said Rawson, have always been an important part of the estate agents marketing efforts and their abolition will put a damper on sales.

· The ban on window signage will eliminate a vital aspect of property marketing - the advertising of properties to the pedestrian passer-by and browser. This, said Rawson, has always led to walk-up enquiries.

Rawson commented that the proposed pre-application process for approval of outdoor advertising appears to be complicated and is bound to be expensive and time-consuming. He queried whether the Council would have the manpower and the systems to process the large volumes of applications that they would be receiving.

The proposal that every applicant pay an assessment fee before learning whether his application was successful could be onerous for the smaller and previously disadvantaged agencies, said Rawson.

Rawson stressed, as he has done before, that all the major Cape Town estate agencies accept that an unseemly proliferation of advertising boards throughout the Greater Cape Town suburbs is not desirable - but, he said, constructive dialogue with the Council could lead to a solution satisfactory to all involved.
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