Designing signage

Sensitively-designed signs can:

  • draw attention to a business
  • enhance a building or precinct’s cultural heritage significance
  • contribute to the character of the streetscape.

These guidelines provide advice on appropriate signage for heritage places/precincts and character buildings.

Signage requirements will vary depending on function – directional, advertising or ornamental.

General design principles

Retain and restore historic signs where possible using best practice conservation techniques.

Unless there is sufficient documentary and physical evidence to reconstruct an original sign, new signage on a heritage place should complement, but preferably not try to replicate, a ‘period’ style.

Ensure the new or replacement signage:

  • retains the significance of a heritage place or precinct 
  • enhances a building’s architecture and setting.


Well-designed signage can enhance a character streetscape or historic area. 

Signage should be used with discretion and an understanding of the intrinsic quality of the streetscapes and precincts of traditional buildings.

Well-maintained buildings will have a strong presence in the streetscape and draw more attention from passers-by than any signage.

Special lighting effects, which highlight the architectural features of a building, can often be the most effective form of advertising.

Statutory requirements

Signage on buildings listed on the Queensland Heritage Register is subject to the provisions of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992. For enquiries about signage and any work on a State heritage place, contact the Department of Environment and Science on 13 74 68 to speak to a Heritage Officer. 

Council’s Planning Information Officers can answer planning enquiries regarding a local heritage place, precincts or commercial character buildings.  Phone Council on 07 3403 8888 between 9am-4pm Monday to Friday and ask to speak to a town planner.

Before lodging a sign application on a local heritage place, precincts or commercial character building in Brisbane City Plan 2014, email Council's City Architecture and Heritage team to discuss the most appropriate approach for signage.

More information 

The Council fact sheet planning new signage may provide further information.

For more information, contact Council.

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Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.