Irymple billboard a 'distraction'? That’s the idea, says ad man

THE managing director of an agency that wants to put up a billboard in the heart of Irymple says he “hopes” the big sign would attract the attention of drivers.

Total Outdoor Media managing director Ged Hart told Mildura councillors at a ­planning forum on Monday night his proposal to install a billboard at the busy intersection of Karadoc Avenue and Fifteenth Street was designed to reach a wide audience.

More than 200 objections have been lodged against the sign, chiefly from Irymple residents who say it would be an “eyesore” and a hazard capable of distracting passing motorists.

Several objectors voiced their concerns with the plan ahead of next week’s decision, urging councillors to refuse a permit for the billboard they believe could lead to motor accidents.

Irymple resident Andrew Schmidt said the intersection was frequented by a “high volume of school-aged children” and “nobody in the community wants (the billboard)”.

Mr Hart told councillors Total Outdoor Media had a track record of winning cases at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and said he had already fielded calls from the Transport Accident Commission and a major Mildura hotel who were interested in advertising themselves on the billboard.

“Are they a distraction? I hope they are – we want advertisers to enjoy the benefit of the signs,” Mr Hart said.

Planning consultant Brent Williams, representing objectors, said the sign was designed to attract the attention of motorists heading along the highway towards Red Cliffs, on the opposite side of the road.

Another concern of residents was a lack of certainty over what the billboard would be used to advertise.

“It could advertise the (Transport Accident Commission), it could advertise my business, it could advertise Elle Macpherson’s lingerie,” Mr Williams said.

Irymple Progress Association president Dorothy Knight said she did not want the Irymple intersection to “end up looking like New York” and hoped the corner block could one day house a business with frontage set back from the road.

The land is vacant apart from a sign, much smaller than the proposed billboard, advertising Mildura Christian College.

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