Review of the Auckland Council Signage Bylaws 2015

Under Section 158 of the Local Government Act 2002, all bylaws must be revisited and reviewed within a five-year time frame which means the Auckland Council 2015 Signage Bylaw is now under review and can be modified or altered to take effect in 2020.

The New Zealand Sign and Display Association (Incorporated) have contracted the services of past Secretary, Brian Fairchild, to advise and oversee the review of the City’s Signage Bylaw. Brian had previously been heavily involved in the 2010 to 2015 Signage Bylaw process, along with NZSDA members Jo Hulsdouw and Ken Galvin, that amalgamated the legacy sign rules from when Auckland was represented by seven different city and district councils and the Auckland Regional Council.

In the initial dealings back in the 2010 review with the amalgamated council, it was the industry’s view that the sign rules should be established as part of the Unitary Plan, which would have meant that every rule could be challenged on a case-by-case basis. The council of the day however, decided that a sign bylaw was preferable, which meant no challenge could be issued, only a specified departure applied for if signage went outside of the rules outlined in the bylaw. The option to see sign rules under the district plan is again on the table, as one of Council’s stated review aims is to assess;

  1. whether a bylaw is still needed

This subject has formed a good percentage of the discussion at the most recent sign bylaw meeting and this is one item we would like to provide some empirical evidence to council on regarding industry’s view and whether a sign bylaw or the District Plan is the preferred vehicle for administering the rules the sign industry is obliged to operate under in the greater Auckland region.

The other questions posed by the review are;

  1. the effectiveness of the current bylaw – what it is doing well – what is not
  2. how the bylaw could be improved – including its form and structure
  3. whether the bylaw should include the rules for election signs – currently managed by Auckland Transport’s (AT’s) Election Signs Bylaw 2013, and
  4. whether other types of signs should be included

Part of the Council’s responsibility, under Section 82 of the Act, is that affected parties are to have open and transparent dialogue to ascertain what, in the collective view, is both workable and desirable with regard to the Bylaw, if in fact a Bylaw is the preferred form of sign management.

To this end an initial meeting took place at Auckland Council in late November that Melissa Coutts and Brian Fairchild attended on behalf of the sign industry. The Policy Manager and a Principal Policy Analyst from the Social Policy and Bylaws Office of Auckland Council outlined between them the process to be followed and sought input from interested parties.

Upon conclusion of the meeting, the Policy Manager asked the question, what could be perceived as the top five potential issues with the current Signage Bylaw. In the days that followed this meeting, a circular was put together and some 417 greater Auckland signmakers, signwriters and suppliers were contacted with a request for feedback on the current Sign Bylaw and what, if anything, needed addressing in the review.

The responses received within the short time frame allowed by the review panel, related primarily to illuminated moving signs, locations and lighting standards and some issues relating to election signs and real estate signs.

Of the four hundred plus e-mails sent out, over ten percent bounced back through the information being dated and clearly we cannot assume to accurately identify the concerns from everybody’s perspective, so the option now exists, via this newsletter and the NZSDA web site, to ask you, as industry stakeholders who conduct business in the greater Auckland region, what signage rules are in need of review and do we in fact still need the signage bylaw when the Unitary or District Plan might be a better place for the rules?

A second meeting was conducted at Auckland Council on Monday the 10th of December and Dave Jaques of Digital Signs joined the review panel and attended with Brian on behalf of NZSDA.

Council have indicated that, If the bylaw is to be reviewed, comments can be relevant to type of sign, placement of sign, size of sign, anything that is described by the current bylaw, such as digital signage, moving signage where technology has advanced substantially since the 2015 bylaws were enacted. Nothing is set in concrete at this early stage and ample time exists to address the industry’s concerns.

The Sign Bylaw Review timeline is as follows;

October 2018 – March 2019
Discovery phase – input from local boards and stakeholders

Early – Mid 2019
Opportunity for local board input on specific signage issues

Report findings then present options for changes to Regulatory Committee and to the Auckland Transport Board

October 2019
Local government elections

Early 2020
Report statement of proposal and new draft bylaw (if bylaw to be used) to Governing Body and AT Board. Public consultation on proposed changes

Hearing Panel reports to Governing Body and AT Board. Adopt amended signage bylaw

Much of the preliminary discussion proposed by Auckland Council would tend to indicate that modifications and additions to the sign bylaw are their preferred way of sign management but they have affirmed that the subject of whether a bylaw is still needed is very much up for discussion.

As NZSDA are not in possession of an e-mail address for every single sign business in the greater Auckland region, and we are particularly keen to ensure that the majority, if not all, of sign makers in the region are consulted and have the opportunity to help shape any changes before the public may make submissions, we are happy for you to share this web page address with any relevant industry acquaintances.

To assist with your considerations a copy of the current Signage Bylaw 2015, which has been in force since 28 May 2015, can be downloaded  below.

Auckland signage-bylaw-2015

Communication on this matter should be directed to Brian Fairchild at in the first instance.