The planning authority has foreshadowed a crackdown on so-called ‘sexy’ advertising hoardings around building sites in response to community concerns about the depiction of women.
Chief Planner Ben Ponton says the authority was looking at developing new advertising guidelines and using the planning approvals process to regulate the use of imagery deemed out of step with community values.
He said the main concern was that the nature of the advertising did not reflect what is being advertised, particularly with the use of images of scantily clad women.
The issue has been bubbling away for months with Minister for Women Yvette Berry previously singling out Geocon for the nature of its advertising, such as the hoarding around the WOVA development in Woden which attracted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau.
It was subsequently dismissed but complaints have continued to pour in to MLAs offices and the planning authority about developers’ advertising hoardings.
On Wednesday (7 November), Labor MLA Tara Cheyne raised the issue at the Legislative Assembly during an annual reports committee hearing, saying there continued to be a proliferation of ‘sexy’ hoardings on building sites not limited to one company.
She said that a father had complained to her recently about his young daughter’s response to a hoarding in Belconnen which showed a naked woman in a shower having a good time. His daughter had asked him what that had to do with a building site.
“That stresses to me what sort of messaging are we allowing to be sent in a such a public way,” she said, asking planning officials what could be done about it.
Mr Ponton replied that his team was looking at the advertising guidelines for the bus network and regulation through the planning approvals process.
Elaborating on that today on ABC radio, Mr Ponton said there were a number of sites of concern but at present, hoardings were exempt from the approvals process.
“We will explore whether there is an opportunity through the development application process as a condition of consent to have the material provided back to the planning authority, where we can compare what’s been provided against criteria or guidelines that we’re hoping to develop,” he said.
“Already in Canberra when you think about what’s advertised on our bus network, there are guidelines in place already about what’s acceptable advertising and these guidelines look to reflect current community values. We’re hoping to explore something similar to apply to the planning approvals process.”
He said while there were no monetary sanctions available under the Planning and Development Act, there were other options through the approvals process although he would not speculate on whether this meant preventing or halting construction.
Mr Ponton said the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate planned to engage with the industry and the community before any action and this would take place in the New Year.
Comment has been sought from Geocon.