State and Local Government Regulation
The development of Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising in Australia is regulated by state road authorities, state planning departments and local government. The OMA works closely with these authorities to advocate for reasonable and evidence-based regulations. The OMA’s Code of Ethics requires its members to comply with government regulations.
The approval process for an OOH structure depends on where the structure will be placed. Most roadside OOH is regulated by state and local government planning laws and policies, but sometimes approvals will also need to be sought from the state road authority.
Sometimes state government agencies or local councils that own signage will contract an OOH operator to display advertisements on that structure. This usually means that the OOH operator is responsible for the maintenance, cleaning and any upgrades to the structure.
If you plan to develop OOH signage, the OMA recommends that you read through the information on this section of the website. If you have further questions, the best point of contact is the state road authority or local council in which you plan to operate. Alternatively, if you have a site that you would like to use for advertising, we suggest that you contact one of our members for more information.
Select a State
- NSW Regulatory Affairs
State RegulationThe primary source of regulation for OOH in New South Wales is State Environmental Planning Policy No. 64 - Advertising and Signage (SEPP 64) and the associated Transport Corridor Outdoor Advertising and Signage Guidelines.
SEPP 64 was created in 2001 following the Sydney Olympic Games and was amended in August 2007. It has rules for advertising and signage visible from a public place or reserve. Among other things, SEPP 64:
- Sets specific rules about outdoor advertising in different formats including wall advertisements, large format, building wraps and advertisements on bridges (sections 15 to 26).
- Outlines where advertising is not permitted, such as on environmentally sensitive land, in national parks and in heritage areas (section 10).
- Makes rules about what consent should be obtained for a promotional advertisement, including consent periods (section 25).
- Sets out rules for obtaining permission from the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), formerly RTA, for some types of advertising (sections 15 to 18).
- Establishes the Minister for Planning as the consent authority for OOH applications in road and some rail corridors, and the local council as the consent authority in other situations (section 12).
- Makes rules for the duration of consents for advertising (section 14).
- Establishes that advertising on transport corridor land by or on behalf of RMS or RailCorp is exempt development to which SEPP 64 does not apply (sections 6, 9 and 33).
- Sets the parameters for a public benefit test for OOH applications which require permission from the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) (section 13).
The Transport Corridor Outdoor Advertising and Signage Guidelines were published in 2007 and provide the following:
- Details of the general assessment criteria for advertisement proposals under SEPP 64 and design criteria for advertising structures within transport corridors (section 2).
- Information about the road safety requirements of the RMS and the role of the RMS in approving certain types of advertising structures (sections 3 and 5).
- Details of the public benefit test requirements for advertisements within transport corridors (section 4).
A draft update to the Transport Corridor Guidelines was released by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in late 2015 to address development and operational controls for digital signage.
Local Council RegulationThere are 130 local councils in NSW, which range in size, population, structure and in the services they provide. This number may change in the future due to the local government amalgamation process.
Local councils generally make regulations for OOH in local planning instruments, including Local Environment Plans (LEPs), Development Control Plans (DCPs), or in other council policy documents. Generally, in the event of an inconsistency between SEPP 64 and a local planning instrument, SEPP 64 takes precedence.
Lodging a Development Application in NSW
To develop OOH signage in NSW, you will need to lodge a Development Application (DA) with the local council, except for applications within certain road and rail transport corridors where the Minister for Planning is the consent authority (see SEPP 64, section 12). Contact the local council to find out about fees payable for lodging a DA.
The DA may require a period of public exhibition, which is normally 30 days. All applications also require consultation with stakeholders such as landowners, neighbours and other interested parties. Council generally has 40 days to assess a DA. In some cases, the application will be referred to the RMS for concurrence (see sections 15 to 18 of SEPP 64 and sections 3 and 5 of the Transport Corridor Guidelines).
If a DA is refused or not assessed (i.e. a deemed refusal), an appeal can be made to the NSW Land and Environment Court. If the matter involves a Crown Development Application, the appeal will need to be made to the Minister for Planning.
- Information on the NSW planning framework is available from the DPE website.
- Information on road safety and the Transport Corridor Guidelines is available from the RMS website.
- The Local Government Association NSW represents the majority of Councils in NSW.
- The Parliament of NSW website has a full list of the current members of the NSW Parliament.
- The Austlii website has all current NSW Acts and Regulations.
- VIC Regulatory Affairs
State RegulationThe Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) is a state government document with planning provisions for municipal councils to refer to when putting together their Planning Scheme. If the Minister for Planning amends a provision in the VPP, all planning schemes containing that provision are also amended.
The primary source of regulation for OOH in Victoria is Clause 52.05 - Advertising Signs of the VPP, which is included in all Planning Schemes. It sets out a number of requirements including:
- Information required to be supplied with any application to develop OOH (52.05-2).
- Guidelines to be used by authorities when deciding on an application (52.05-3 and 52.05-6).
- Requirements for "major promotion" (large format) signs (52.05-6).
- Expiry dates for advertising permits (52.05-6 for large format signs or 52.05-1 for other signs).
- Information about types of signs which do not require a permit, such as some small signs and signs inside a building (not visible from outside) (52.05-4).
- A table that sets out whether signs are allowed or prohibited in different zones (52.05-7 to 52.05-10).
Municipal Council RegulationThere are 79 local councils in Victoria, which range in size, population, structure and in the services they provide. Councils operate within the regulatory framework laid down by the state government, and their powers and responsibilities come mainly from the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
Each council has a Planning Scheme which sets out regulations for the use and development of land. Planning Schemes are legal documents which are usually prepared by the local council, and approved by the Minister for Planning. The Planning Scheme includes zoning maps, overlays which affect the land, local policies and detail about which activities need a permit. A list of all current Victorian Planning Schemes can be found here.
Where local councils have additional requirements for OOH, they are generally in Clause 22 (Local Planning Policies) of the Planning Scheme. The additional requirements will either reflect Clause 52.05 of the VPP or will be more restrictive. Local government Planning Schemes do not override the state planning provisions and this means that clause 52.05 of the VPP sets the minimum standards for OOH.
Lodging a Planning Permit Application in VICTo develop OOH signage in Victoria, you will need to lodge a planning permit application with the relevant local council, addressing the criteria in clause 52.05 of the Planning Scheme. Fees are payable to lodge a planning permit application.
Depending on the council, the application may require a period of public exhibition, normally 14 days. Most applications will require consultation with relevant stakeholders including land owners, neighbouring residents and other interested parties.
A council generally has 60 days to assess an application (excluding any public notification period). Also, for an animated or electronic sign within 60 metres of a freeway or arterial road the council is required to notify VicRoads as a referral authority (clause 52.05-1). Even where the application doesn't fall within this category, the council is entitled to seek input from VicRoads.
In the event of an application being refused or not being assessed (that is a deemed refusal), an Applicant can appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
- Information on the Victorian planning framework is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
- The Municipal Association of Victoria represents local government in Victoria.
- The Parliament of Victoria website has a full list of the current members of the Victorian Parliament.
- The Austlii website contains all current Victorian Acts and Regulations.
- QLD Regulatory Affairs
Local Council Planning SchemesPlanning Schemes are the primary source of OOH regulation at the local government level in Queensland. The Planning Schemes specify the level of assessment for different forms of development and provide guidance for decisions on development applications.
In the past, Planning Schemes were made under the Integrated Planning Act 1997, (IPA). In 2009 this was replaced by the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA). In 2009 the Queensland Planning Provisions (QPP) also came into effect. The QPP is a State document that provides a template for the drafting of Planning Schemes across Queensland. A new Planning Act for Queensland was passed by the Queensland Parliament in May 2016 and it is due to commence in mid-2017.
The QPP defines an advertising device as, "Any permanent structure, device, sign or the like intended for advertising purposes. It includes any framework, supporting structure or building feature that is provided exclusively or mainly as part of the advertisement."
The QPP allows flexibility for Councils to tailor their Planning Scheme to reflect the context of their local area, so rules for the regulation of OOH vary widely across the 77 councils in Queensland. Individual councils can provide you with a copy of their Planning Scheme.
Local LawsIn Queensland, OOH is regulated under Local Law in some council areas, including Brisbane City Council and the City of the Gold Coast.
For example, the Brisbane City Council Advertisements Local Law 2013 sets out:
- Which advertisements are permitted (sections 5 to 7).
- What should be included in an application for OOH advertising (section 9).
- What the council should take into account when assessing an application (section 10).
- How long an approval will be in place for (section 11).
- What conditions may be imposed on an approval (section 12).
- Information about how the council may enforce breaches of the conditions of approval (sections 14 to 18). A list of the Local Laws for each council area can be found here.
Department of Transport and Main RoadsThe Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) has jurisdiction over signage on state controlled roads and signage that is visible from declared motorways.
The regulations imposed by the DTMR are managed through the Roadside Advertising Guide which sets out:
- Statutory controls for advertising (Part 3).
- Categories of advertising and approval procedures (Part 4).
- General criteria for all advertising devices, such as safety and amenity issues (Part 5).
- Specific criteria for billboards, covering issues such as moving and/or digital billboards, restriction distances, separation distances, dimensions and illumination (Part 6).
- Specific criteria for illuminated advertising on street name posts (Part 7).
- Specific criteria for advertising on bus shelters, which covers issues such as site selection, physical characteristics and illumination (Part 8).
- How compliance breaches are enforced (Part 10)
Lodging a Development Application in QLD
In Queensland, a Development Application (DA) for OOH needs to be lodged with the local council in accordance with their Planning Scheme or Local Law, and fees are payable. Some OOH applications will also be referred by the council to the DTMR.
If your DA is refused, there are different ways to appeal depending on whether a Planning Scheme or the Local Law applies. For refused DAs, you can appeal to the QLD Planning and Environment Court. If Local Law applies, Councils often have an internal appeal process which would apply, however the process can vary between councils.
- Information on the Queensland planning framework is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.
- The Local Government Association of Queensland represents the majority of councils in the state.
- The Queensland Parliament Website has a full list of the current members of the Queensland Parliament.
- The Austlii website contains all current QLD Acts and Regulations.
- SA Regulatory Affairs
Local Council RegulationUnder the Development Act 1993, development of OOH in South Australia requires the approval of the local council (or for development on Crown land, the Development Assessment Commission ).
South Australia's 68 local councils each have a Development Plan which sets out the types of development that can or cannot take place. The Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure's (DPTI) South Australian Planning Policy Library includes an Advertisements Module (pages 17-20) which is a template for advertising regulation that will be incorporated into all local council Development Plans over time. This module sets out rules for amenity and safety, including in relation to freestanding advertisements and advertising on arterial roads.
A list of all current Development Plans in SA is available here.
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)
Under the Development Regulations 2008 (schedule 8) the Commissioner for Highways (through the DPTI) must be consulted to develop OOH that is:
- On an arterial road, primary road, primary arterial road or secondary arterial road (as classified in the council's Development Plan); and
- Within 100m of a signalised intersection or a pedestrian actuated crossing.
This requirement applies to advertising that "will be internally illuminated and incorporate red, yellow, green or blue lighting" or that "will incorporate a moving display." This limits the DPTI's formal involvement to applications for the development of digital, scrolling or tri-vision OOH. However, even when this requirement to consult with the DPTI does not apply, a local council or a developer may consult with the DPTI informally.
Schedule 8 states that the council is generally only required to "give regard" to the advice of the DPTI, so the DPTI does not have any power to directly approve or refuse an application. Also, a local council can decline an application for OOH on the grounds of traffic impact even where the DPTI has not raised an objection on these grounds.
For all applications to develop OOH on state roads the approval of the DPTI must be given (sections 221 and 222 of the Local Government Act 1999.
The Advertising Signs Assessment Guidelines for Road Safety is used by the DPTI when they are considering any application for OOH development. These Guidelines include:
- A road safety assessment checklist for advertising signs - this requires information to be provided to DPTI about site placement, crash rates, structure, content, illumination, dwell times etc.
- Device restriction areas for advertising that is visible from arterial roads.
- Rules in relation to digital OOH.
- Rules for advertising within road reserves.
Lodging a Development Application in SA
In South Australia, a Development Application (DA) for OOH is lodged with the local council, and fees are payable. The local council may undertake public notification, and will either make the decision themselves or refer the DA to an assessment panel. A DA will generally take 8 to 12 weeks to assess.
Where the council formally or informally refers a DA to the PTI, the process will take an additional 6 to 10 weeks.
Appendix 6 of the DPTI Advertising Signs Assessment Guidelines for Road Safety sets out a flow chart of the assessment process for advertising signs.
Except when a DA is deemed to be non-complying (a specific legal category), you can appeal a refusal to the SA Environment, Resources and Development Court. The first stage of the appeal enables compromise options to be considered, and if a compromise cannot be reached it will proceed to a formal Hearing. A planning appeal generally takes 3 to 4 months to process.
- Information on the South Australian planning framework is available from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
- The Local Government Association of South Australia represents the majority of councils in the state.
- The Parliament of South Australia website has a full list of the current members of the South Australian Parliament.
- The Austlii website contains all current SA Acts and Regulations.
- WA Regulatory Affairs
Local Council Regulation
Regulation of OOH in Western Australia is generally overseen by local councils under the Local Government Act 1995 and the Planning and Development Act 2005, through Planning Schemes, Policies and Local Laws. Each local council can provide you with copies of all relevant regulations.
Generally, Main Roads WA has authority to regulate OOH that is on state roads or visible from state roads, however this authority will often be delegated to local councils for bus shelter, roadside seat and litter bins, under the Main Roads Act 1930 (section 33C).
Main Roads Western Australia
For OOH on state roads or visible from state roads, Main Roads WA has a regulatory role in addition to the local council. A Roadside Advertising Guideline has been developed by Main Roads WA which outlines their requirements for roadside advertising in these situations.
The key sections of the Guideline set out:
- General conditions for all advertising devices (Section 3) - these relate to site selection, crash history and physical characteristics of the sign (such as illumination, movement and structural safety).
- Conditions for billboards within the State road reserve (section 4.1) - these relate to size and shape, dwell time for digital OOH, font size, spacing, restriction distances, amenity, construction and maintenance.
- Conditions for bus shelter, roadside seat and litter bin signs within the state road reserve (section 4.6) - these relate to prohibitions on Freeways or 'Gateway' sections, as well as conditions for display, location, content, movement/rotation, amenity, construction and maintenance.
- Conditions for advertising beyond the state road reserve but visible to state road users (section 5) - these relate to display, location, content, movement/rotation, amenity, construction and maintenance, as well as special conditions for wide state road reserves in remote areas.
- Application requirements (section 6.2).
- Indemnity and insurance requirements (6.3).
Lodging a Development Application in WA
In Western Australia, a Development Application (DA) for OOH is lodged with the local council, and fees are payable. The local council may advertise the proposal to seek public comment, including notifying neighbours and other interested parties. The local council may also consult with statutory, public or planning authorities.
The local council is required to make a decision within 60 days, or 90 days if the proposal is subject to public advertising.
Where the application is for OOH on a state road or visible from a state road, the form at Appendix E of the Roadside Advertising Guideline will need to be completed and submitted to the local council. If the local council approves the application, it will then be forwarded to Main Roads WA for assessment and approval under the Roadside Advertising Guideline.
If an application is refused or not responded to within the specified timeframe (i.e. a deemed refusal), you may apply to the State Administrative Tribunal within 28 days for a review of the decision.
- Information on the Western Australian planning framework is available from the Department of Planning website.
- The Main Roads WA website has information about advertising on or visible from state roads.
- The Western Australian Local Government Association represents the majority of councils in the state.
- The Parliament of Western Australia website has a full list of the current members of the Western Australian Parliament.
- The Austlii website contains all current WA Acts and Regulations.