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Scaffidi in row over hotel sign
Sunday Times, Perth  by Peter Law
05 Mar 2017
General News - page 35 - 482 words - ID 737104540 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 382.00cm2

PERTH Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi and her developer husband are again at loggerheads with the City of Perth over their CBD hotel, this time over plans to erect an electronic advertising billboard.

Council staff have recommended councillors on the planning committee this week reject a bid to install the $700,000 digital sign - which measures 5.3m by 8m - on the side of 379 Wellington Street.

Planning officers say the screen "could create a safety hazard" because it was intended to be viewed by passing motorists and pedestrians at the busy intersection of Barrack and Wellington streets.

They also said the "variable content sign" would "detrimentally impact on local amenity, the streetscape and the adjacent Barrack Street Conservation Area" and result in "visual clutter".

According to a council report, planning consultants Urbis claimed the sign would "provide for additional visual interest and enhance the vibrancy of the area, consistent with that expected of a CBD environment".

But officers said it was "difficult to speculate or quantify how the conversion of the existing sign to a digital format would improve its current contribution to the existing adjacent environment".

"In contrast, it is considered that modernising its current format may detract from its existing setting adjacent to Barrack Street in particular, which is characterised by heritage buildings," the report states.

A traffic assessment in support of the application concluded the sign would not pose a risk to motorists or pedestrians, but officers said the proposal had the potential to distract drivers.

The building is owned by Central City Pty Limited. Mrs Scaffidi and her husband Joe are two of the company's five shareholders. Mrs Scaffidi said she would declare her financial interest when the electronic billboard issue went to council and would not vote on it.

The side of the building is leased to advertising agency APN Outdoor, which lodged the application.

It comes 18 months after it emerged permission for an existing static advertising billboard on the side of the historic building had expired. Council later approved the removal of time restrictions.

Since then, the building has been rebranded as Akara and last month the City of Perth issued retrospective conditional approval for eight signs promoting the hotel.

That signage was erected by another company, Akara Hotels Pty Ltd, which leases the property from Central City.

It's understood when it was realised Akara had not obtained planning approval, Central City "stepped in to rectify this matter".

"Meetings between the City of Perth, Central City Pty Ltd and a representative from Akara Hotels Pty Ltd all discussed the signage and came to a conclusion that some of the signage will be amended and/or removed," Akara Hotel director Gary Sugget said.

Caption Text:
On show: Above, an artist's impression of the electronic advertising billboard proposed for 379 Wellington Street. Left, Lisa Scaffidi and her husband Joe want to erect a super-size electronic billboard in Wellington Street.

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