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Aucklanders who enjoy staring at Dan Carter in his underwear can breathe easier after a panel of commissioners rejected a council plan to ban billboards.

The panel will recommend the council allow all legally established billboards to remain but apply tougher conditions on new billboards.

Recommendations include tougher guidelines on location, height, size and lighting of billboards and tougher enforcement which could see non-compliant billboards removed or covered within 24 hours.

The panel will also recommend no new free-standing billboards be allowed in the city, and that Auckland City Council takes up an offer from the outdoor advertising industry to work on issues around heritage concerns, no-go areas and protecting key entry points to the inner city area.

The recommendations will be decided upon by the full council next month but the panel's views are not expected to be overturned.

Today's decision follows months of debate and vigorous opposition to the proposed ban from the billboard industry.

The panel heard from 500 verbal submitters and received more than 1700 written submissions, the majority of which opposed the plan.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett had estimated 75 per cent of billboards in Auckland would become illegal under the proposed bylaws, damaging property values and the city's business-friendly image.

Outdoor Advertising Association chairman Duncan Harris was delighted at the decision.

" We're very pleased that the commissioners listened to what was said at the hearings and have acted on a clear majority of public and industry opinion," Mr Harris said.

"Having said that, we as an industry have to recognise that council does want to make quicker progress on improving the amenity value of our city and we have to work with them accordingly.

"We've been given that opportunity now and we have to make sure we take it."

He also said the industry and the council would also have to discuss the future of an estimated 50 inner city billboard sites scheduled for redevelopment.

"Redevelopment means those sites could be no longer available to us within about two years," he said.

"It was made clear to us that the commissioners and council wanted to be sure that these sites would contribute to the ongoing decrease of billboard numbers in the inner city."

Mr Harris said the recommendation was one which should please outdoor advertisers and the council.

" The industry won't suffer the significant damage the initial bylaw would have caused and the council does get better control and tighter restrictions around our industry for the future.

"Just as importantly we both will have a forum for ongoing dialogue to resolve issues as they come up."

- NZPA