Matt Hourigan.

THE owner of a Queen Street camera business is reconsidering his location after incurring an $800 fine for the dressing of his front shop window.

Bendigo Camera House’s Matt Hourigan said that by ordering him to remove the advertising that wraps his front window, the City of Greater Bendigo was unfairly dictating how he ran his business.

Mr Hourigan said he had gained 30 per cent more floor space by removing display cabinets that took up space at the front of his shop and did little “but collect flies”.

Moreover, he said the advertising drew people into the shop to ask about the products.

But he said he was given no option but to change the window dressing.

“From the outset any communication I had with (the council) I was told I had to have a planning permit but that I was unlikely to get it,” Mr Hourigan said.

The issue, according to council signage policy, is that the window is not active.

Statutory planning manager Ross Douglas said active frontage meant the ability of a pedestrian to see what is inside a shop front.

“This is good for business and makes streets more accessible and friendly for pedestrians,” Mr Douglas said.

“The city’s advertising policy aims to support businesses’ need to advertise and encourage the placement, style and scale of advertising that complements the character, area and individual place where advertising is located.

These policy objectives are relevant regardless of economic conditions globally, locally or for any sector of the business community.”

Mr Hourigan said he only became aware he would need a permit when a council compliance officer told him.

After applying, he was refused the permit, fined $800 and asked to remove the advertising.

He said it irked him that the windows of other shops were covered.

But Mr Douglas said the council has issued 17 similar fines in the past eight years.

“This decision by the council, if allowed to stand, may well be the catalyst that forces me to move my business out of the CBD,” Mr Hourigan said.