Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Public consultation for council's billboard plan

UP TO 80 outdoor advertisements due to be erected in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area without planning approval will now be subject to a public consultation process, the council has said.

The decision comes after Clear Channel, the company chosen to erect 47 of the smaller signs, pulled out of the €10 million, 10-year deal with the council.

The council had also come under severe criticism for refusing to seek planning permission for the erection of 30 billboard-sized signs throughout its administrative area in a deal with advertising company JC Decaux Ltd.

In a report to councillors, to be discussed at a council meeting next week, environment and culture director Richard Shakespeare said the contract with JC Decaux would now be subject to “Part 8” approval for each of the proposed structures.

Under the Part 8 process the proposals will go on display and the public will be invited to make submissions before councillors vote on whether or not to approve the structures.

Mr Shakespeare said though the 47 smaller signs had already been approved by councillors, they would also be subject to the Part 8 process because a “window of opportunity” existed after the withdrawal of Clear Channel.

He said Clear Channel had told the council they were not in a position to proceed in the short term because of the downturn in the economy and the fall in demand for outdoor advertising. He also warned “a major adjustment” in the council’s expenditure on amenities would be required because of the loss of income.

Members of the Green Party in Dún Laoghaire welcomed the decision, but said they would prefer if the proposals were either dropped or put through a full planning process.

Green Party TD Ciarán Cuffe, who described the signs already in Dublin city as “visual pollution”, said the Part 8 procedure was flawed because it could not be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

“Given that the council is making money from the deal I don’t believe they can be impartial in deciding on their own application,” he said.

Cllr Gene Feighery said she didn’t want people to wake up in the morning and find a billboard the height of a double-decker bus on their doorstep.

“The JC Decaux ads will have 18 fluorescent tubes inside them to light them up, and may well be carrying ads from drink companies; I don’t feel this is appropriate,” she said.

Irish Times


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