Councillors will mull over controversial plans for an electronic billboard overlooking Sturt Street at the next council meeting on Wednesday.
Council officers at the City of Ballarat are recommending to councillors that a notice of decision to grant a permit be set aside - a move that will need to be considered by the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Plans for the sign, which is strongly opposed by Ballarat heritage enthusiasts, seemed to gain momentum when the notice of decision was announced.
However, the City of Ballarat has now outlined in detail the reasons why they plan to take the matter to the VCAT and reverse that call.
In an officer report included in the agenda for the next council meeting, it says approval of the sign "would be contrary to the relevant heritage controls... to conserve and enhance heritage places of natural or cultural significance. "
For some time we have been concerned that controversial planning decisions are not always being made by council itself but by council officers under delegationStuart Kelly, Ballarat Heritage Watch
Officers also outlined other potential objections to the sign, including it being contrary to the Ballarat Planning Scheme's guidelines "to fit the amenity and visual appearance of an area".
There is an existing sign already at the location - above an optometrist's - from 101 to 107 Sturt Street, close to the corner with Albert Street. That sign is not electronic.
The planning application was made on behalf of Citizen Outdoor Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based company.
The company's director Wes Randerson told The Courier previously that heritage advisors were consulted about the sign, and the application including a heritage assessment report and a lighting impact assessment.
"The building has a long history of accommodating promotional signage and this is considered to be an entrenched contributor to the character of Sturt Street," he said.
The planning report also said the billboard, with proposed dimensions of 9m x 3m, would be "an improvement over the current sign conditions" and that the "resulting visual impact will be beneficial".
Stuart Kelly of Ballarat Heritage Watch said on Friday he was pleased the proposed sign is due to be considered within the council chamber.
"I would see it as a positive move for councillors becoming involved in heritage matters," he told The Courier.
"For some time we have been concerned that controversial planning decisions are not always being made by council itself but by council officers under delegation."
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