Council Application requirements for External signage approvals

Before getting too involved in the basic ‘nuts and bolts’ of illuminated signage, and the variety and options of signs available, I want to stress right here and now that all signs or this nature MUST have the written approval of the governing local council of the area in which the sign is to be installed. This applies to ALL or the councils throughout Australia.

Although there is no standard application form for signage approval, it is essential that the correct form(s) are sought from the respective council, completed, submitted and ultimately approved prior to any work beginning on the sign. Failure to get the required approvals may well result in materials and time spent and wasted on production or court orders being made to have unapproved (installed) signs removed.

Here is a check list of just some of things that need to be done in order to get signage approval…………. and the list seems to be growing each year!

Most councils require a complete Development Application encompassing both Building and Planning approvals. Lodgment and other fees might be applied and need to be paid prior to approvals being granted. Access local Councils in South Australia here.

For other states, Google search “Local Government (your state)

  1. Applications will include, complete signage plans showing materials, method of construction, colours, intended graphics, footing / foundation and / or fixing details.
  2. A scaled site plan showing property boundaries and the existing structures and the location of the proposed sign, is also required.
  3. If installation involves road closures or special protective hoardings to be installed, plans and details will also be required by council together with payment of any associated fees.
  4. Some councils will require some signs to have the approval of a registered structural engineer who will certify the construction and installation proposed to be both sound and suitable.
  5. Depending on sign size, colours, situation, placement and location, further approvals / opinions might need to be sought from Dept Main Roads / Transport if lighting is deemed to ‘conflict’ with traffic lights, Dept Aviation if near or conflicting with aircraft flight paths.
  6. Heritage issues might also need to be resolved if signage conflicts with any local laws in relation to buildings of historical importance.
  7. Prior to boring holes, a services check should be done to ensure no services are in danger of being damaged by excavation / boring. All services can be checked by independent providers of this service and you can also order a list of underground service through Dial Before You Dig phone 1100 or do it on line. All information can be forwarded to you via email from the respective underground and overhead service providers in the area of your proposed installation.
  8. In the case of installations being close to overhead power lines, approval may need to be sought from the Office Of The Technical Regulator who is able to advise on what precautions need to be taken and what your responsibilities are dependent on power line voltage and proximity to the site. You may need to complete a “Declaration of Applicant” form.
  9. If you are organising installation of the sign yourself, the Council might ask you to complete a ‘Job Safety Analysis’ commonly known as a JSA form. This form details the work to be carried out, the possible hazards or potential accident types that might occur in relation to possible harm to anyone, how to controls and help eliminate the risk of accident(s), and the person responsible on site to ensure that these safeguards happen.
  10. You might also be asked by the council concerned, to supply a full, current Certificate of Title. In South Aust you can do this online. They will email the information to you and you pay online.

All such applications to council and other regulatory bodies, can be arranged by our council liaison dept at Gigantic Signs, who specialise in this area. We charge a fee for application preparation and lodgment plus the associated fees for permits, licenses etc. Depending on the gravity of the project, the application process is included in the cost of the sign.

If you want to go it alone, the best place to start is with the Planning & Building Officer in the Council in which the sign is to be erected. The contact for all councils in Australia can be sourced from Local Government.

For Building approvals, as an alternative, you can seek the services of a “Private Certifier”. They can arrange all the requirements necessary to service the needs of council. All Planning approvals must go through council direct. You can Google for a “Private Certifier” in your state.

PLEASE NOTE – for signage that is “inside” your building behind a window or behind a glazed area that constitutes a part of the building and can be seen from the outside, NO APPROVALS are necessary. This applies to ALL forms of signage including neon and backlit signage.

ALSO – any signage directly fitted to the exterior wall of your business premises does NOT require an application as long as it extends no higher than 3700mm above ground level. The reference for this (below) is taken from DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS 2008 – SCHEDULE 3

Schedule 3—Acts and activities which are not development
A1—Application of Schedule 3
1—Advertising displays
(e) (i) that the advertisement is not displayed or erected above any verandah or the fascia of a verandah or, in a case where there is no verandah, that no part of the advertisement is more than 3.7 metres above ground level;