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Ban on unsightly ads in Warsaw... in two years

Opr./edited AZ 24 January 2020
Ban on unsightly ads in Warsaw... in two years
A before and after view of the hoardings ban

POLAND Warsaw city council has passed a “cityscaping” resolution to remove the chaotic clutter of advertising on the capital’s streets and squares.

The policy that has been adopted is aimed at improving the appearance and integrity of the city’s urban space. Building walls will no longer be used as spaces for advertising hoardings. The largest billboards will generally only be permitted at main exit routes from the city. Huge and flashing displays will disappear.

The resolution applies not only advertising and signboards but also to benches, fences and similar items. The guidelines will introduce standards for benches, litter bins and all such objects in public space across the city. Separate guidelines will apply to fences and the resolution also contains a list of residential estates that will be covered by it.

“The resolution is rather similar to a local plan. It is binding for everyone, has a similar level of detail and has a multi-level adoption procedure. The only difference is that a local plan applies to an individual area whereas the cityscaping resolution covers the entire city,” explains Marlena Happach, the director of the city’s architecture and spatial planning department.

The regulations are to come into force 90 days after the publication of the resolution in the official journal of Mazowieckie province. The document also specifies an adjustment period. In the case of existing billboards, companies will have two years to meet all of its requirements. The adjustment period for more permanent signage is to be three years and five years for objects such as bins and benches. All new installations will immediately have to meet the standards set out in the resolution. If companies do not comply with the law, penalties will be imposed each day, calculated according to the scale of the infringement. In 2020, the penalty for each sqm of illegal advertising will come to PLN 112, in the case of a larger objects, such as a 500 sqm advertising mesh, it will be PLN 4,600 per day.

Up until now, some advertising sector companies have found it profitable to bend or even violate the law, since it was financially worthwhile to make money from illegal hoardings for several months or longer due to the failure to impose the law in certain cases The resolution will immediately prohibit the installation of new, illegal advertising.

“Spatial order is important. In order to achieve this we have to make sure the advertising world does not infringe upon those public spaces that are our common good. There is space for advertising in the city, but it cannot obscure its architecture, limit the access to light in residential buildings, cover monuments or impinge upon road safety. The changes will not have an immediate effect. We will have to wait for two years for this to be felt, but during this time we will be able to prepare for introducing and enforcing the resolution. But new advertising will have to comply with the resolution as soon as it comes into force,” insists Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw
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