Advertising signs

Advertising means an advertisement that is visible from a road or other public place, along with the infrastructure needed to display the advertisement. This can be advertising signs hanging under awnings or projecting from a building, electronic and illuminated signage, banners or bunting and signs erected on poles or pylons.

Most kinds of advertising signs require a Council permit or Planning Approval to make sure the advertisements and associated structures complement the area where they are installed.

This means signs that are permitted in a commercial area may not be allowed in a residential area, and vice-versa.

Criteria we look at when considering an application for an advertising sign include:

  • The advertisement is structurally sound
  • It does not obstruct or distract motorists or pedestrian traffic
  • The size is not unduly dominating or oppressive
  • The size does not unreasonably obstruct existing views
  • It is consistent in colour and appearance with nearby buildings and environment

We also take into account submissions or objections made by the public or other interested parties.

A full list of permitted advertising, advertising requiring a permit and prohibited advertisements is available from page 4-9 in Local Law No. 4 (Advertising Devices) 2016.

Policy Direction for Digital Advertising (August 2018)

On 8 August 2018, Council endorsed a policy direction to guide appropriate use of digital advertising signage. The advertising devices policy direction ( PDF, 0.14 MB ) identifies locations where such advertising will be restricted in the interest of residential amenity, while balancing the needs of businesses.

The policy direction will guide an updating of Council’s existing Local Law relating to advertising devices, and an amendment to the CairnsPlan 2016 planning scheme. The draft amendments will be released for public consultation in due course.

Most commercial advertising is allowed in Cairns without a permit providing it meets safety, maintenance and amenity requirements.

Signage must not:

Be more than 30% of the surface area of the
wall it is placed on

Harm public health and safety

Cause property damage to public

Cause a nuisance

Distract pedestrian or vehicular traffic
Obscure a motorist’s view in any way,
particularly when an advertisement is
located on or near a street corner or
Cause environmental harm
Have a detrimental impact on the amenity
of the area
Cause the obstruction of an existing view
or vista from any premises
Emit excessive glare or reflection
Be attached to a tree or infrastructure such
as light poles and street signs

It must also be:
Maintained at all times in good order
Be free of graffiti
Be structurally sound.

The following types of advertising are not
allowed in Cairns.
Beacon lights or revolving or flashing lights
Advertisements affixed to, placed upon, or
beside a vehicle that is stopped on Council
land or road for the primary purpose of
displaying the advertising device
Off-site advertising
Aerial advertising devices
Free-standing and moveable
advertisements, including portable or
A-frame advertising, on Council land or
road within the CBD. (Note: one A-frame
or similar device is permitted per business
outside the CBD.)

You can use temporary signage to advertise
events in line with the rules below.
The regulations are slightly different if you place
the sign on private property versus the roadside.
Rules for garage sales are the same as roadside
Private property
Maximum of 14 consecutive days in a 90-
day period, prior to the event
Is removed within 24 hours of the event
Is not illuminated or flashing or revolving
Roadside/garage sales
Maximum of 2 days prior to the event
Is removed within 24 hours of the event
Is a maximum of 1m2
Doesn’t obstruct pedestians or motorists
Is not illuminated, flashing or revolving

Last updated: 09 August 2018