Debate over Woodend billboards


A Canterbury motorist says a long line of advertising billboards on farmland near the southern entrance to Woodend is a traffic hazard.

The man, who does not want to be named, claimed the billboards are a serious distraction for motorists and he is concerned they will cause an accident.

He said he has complained to the Waimakariri District Council about the billboards and was told it had received other complaints about the issue.

However, other motorists who use this stretch of highway regularly don’t seem to be too bothered by the billboards, saying they hardly even notice them.

Some motorists couldn’t even say what was written on them and did not find them to be a distraction.

One even questioned why people would bother advertising there because the billboards don’t seem to be very effective.

Woodend-Sefton Community Board chair Shona Powell said she has not received any complaints about the billboards and she does not find them to be a distraction when driving.

A Waimakariri District Council spokesman said the signs the complainant was referring to have been in that area along State Highway 1 for several years. The council has recently received a couple of concerns regarding their legitimacy and location.

If the signs are located within the road reserve, Waka Kotahi/ NZ Transport Agency has the power to decide on any action required if deemed necessary.

If the signs are located on private property, they are governed by the Waimakariri District Plan, the spokesman says.

However, the fence lines are not always indicative of a legal boundary and it is ‘‘currently difficult to precisely determine the location of some signs’’ without conducting a survey.

‘‘Any signs located on private land that did not relate to an activity at the address would not currently meet the DP rules, which would mean the landowner would require a resource consent to legitimise the signs,’’ he says.

‘‘Signage not meeting the DP rules may result in council issuing an abatement notice requiring the landowner to remove the sign. This may be followed by an infringement notice for each day the offence continues.

‘‘Another option would require the landowner applying for and uplifting (if granted) a resource consent for breaching the DP signage rules.’’

This option would be a costly exercise for the individual landowner.

However, the council considered the current position of the signs to be a relatively low risk for traffic.

‘‘At a general level, these signs are similar in nature to others around the district where enforcement of the signage rules would put additional costs on ratepayers for little or no change in the signs themselves,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘The council’s current preference is to maintain the status quo, rather than undertaking a survey to determine the location between Waka Kotahi and the private landowners, as this would be a substantial cost to its ratepayers.’’

The council does have the discretion to enforce any rule within the District Plan.

‘‘However, council in the first instance would consider working with property owners and Waka Kotahi to legitimise the signs should it decide this was necessary.’’

By Shelley Topp