A sign on a heritage building is not all bad

1 February 2017
Stafford Hopewell, Partner, Brisbane

Proposed signage on the Kedron Park Hotel was approved as it posed no undue impact on the hotel or its heritage significance

Australian Leisure And Hospitality Group Pty Ltd v Brisbane City Council – What’s the case about?

The Planning and Environment Court delivered a decision in the case of Australian Leisure And Hospitality Group Pty Ltd v Brisbane City Council [2016] QPEC 66 which involved an appeal against a decision of the Brisbane City Council to refuse to grant a licence under the Advertisements Local Law 2013 to permit the exhibition of a roof sign on land situated at Lutwyche.

The proposed sign was a single-sided electronic advertising device with a total area of 33.5m2. It was proposed to sit on top of the recent southern extension of the Kedron Park Hotel.

The primary issue the Court had to decide was whether the roof sign would have an unreasonable impact on the hotel itself particularly given its status as a heritage place.

The Court, having regard to the position of the proposed sign on the building and the characteristics of the building, found that the roof sign would not have an undue impact on the hotel and its heritage significance. The Court therefore allowed the appeal.

Snapshot of Court’s consideration and findings

The exhibition of an advertisement was regulated by the Advertisements Local Law 2013. Relevantly, the Council may approve the exhibition of an advertisement if amongst other things the approval was consistent with the Subordinate Local Law.

The Advertisement Subordinate Local Law 2005 was the relevant Subordinate Local Law which set out criteria for assessing an application for an advertisement. The criteria relevantly included consideration of the city environment to which the advertisements were to be exhibited and whether they were exhibited on a heritage place.

The city environment in which the land was located was technically a residential environment as a result of its zoning. However, it was observed by the Court that the environment was dominated by major road infrastructure and it was far from a typical residential environment.

Putting aside the impact of the proposed sign on the hotel itself the Council accepted that there was nothing about the broader environment which would make the land an unsuitable environment for the proposed sign. For this reason, the primary issue for determination by the Court was whether the roof sign would have an unreasonable impact on the Kedron Park Hotel itself particularly given that the hotel was a heritage place for the purposes of the Subordinate Local Law.

The Court noted that the hotel building consisted of three components; the first component was built in 1881 on the corner and with a frontage to each of the streets, the second component was an extension added in 1920 which wrapped around the 1881 part of the building and had frontages to each of the roads, and the third component was the low-level extension to the south which was more modern and had no significant heritage significance.

In that context, the Court relevantly observed that the proposed sign would not affect the primary view of the hotel as a landmark corner hotel as the sign was to be located around the back or side. Furthermore, the value of the hotel building as it related to the evolution or pattern of the city and the history of the local area would not be adversely affected and would still readily be appreciated.

As to its impact on the appreciation of the 1881 or the 1920 component, the Court was satisfied that the proposed sign would not have any impact on the appreciation of the intactness of the 1881 component of the hotel building. The Court observed that the proposed sign could obscure the view of some part of the 1920 addition but considered any such obstruction to be minor.

The Court also observed that the proposed sign would obscure part of the more recent additions but relevantly noted that they did not add anything to the heritage significance of the hotel building.

In the opinion of Australian Leisure’s heritage expert, “the significant parts of the heritage building are centred around the street corner, with the 19th century verandah front of the original building, and the later 1920s additions to the south and east” and “the proposed sign is not located on the street facade of the hotel, but rather, around the corner against a relatively side wall on the lower flat roof of the relatively recent addition”.

The Court accepted Australian Leisure’s expert’s analysis and his conclusion that the proposed sign would not have an undue impact on the hotel and its heritage significance. It was concluded by the Court that the location of the proposed sign had shown appropriate respect to the hotel building and would not have an unreasonable impact on the hotel itself or its heritage significance. On this basis, it was held that there were special circumstances which would warrant the approval of the proposed sign as prescribed under the Subordinate Local Law.

Points worth noting

When it comes to considering matters of heritage and whether a proposed development will impact on the heritage values, it is often a matter of subjective assessment and reasonable minds may differ. However, it is important to keep in mind the nature of the proposed development and the characteristics of the heritage site in the assessment.

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

Get in touch