Local Government FAQs

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Adele Venessa
Q&A with Adele Veness (Senior Associate), Local Government, Environment & Planning

Recently we advised clients living in rural zones who have wanted to either subdivide or build on their property.  Their property did not meet the minimum lot size for approving the building or subdivision and Council therefore refused their development application.

We were able to advise that minimum lot size is a development standard not a development control and this means that Council has the discretion to vary the standard for a particular development and consequently approve the development. Sometimes the devil is in the detail.

We have recently advised clients who have received development control orders in relation to allegedly unapproved buildings on their property which were located in bushy rural areas.  Even though these buildings had existed on the property for a long time, some were not safe to live in, particularly taking into account the intense bushfire season this spring/summer.

In these cases, Council was making sure the buildings were safe and built to a standard that would withstand bushfires. We advised that unless the buildings could be brought up to standard by complying with the Building Code of Australia, the Council had the power to order that the buildings be demolished and could also fine the client if they did not comply with the order to demolish.

We have prepared submissions to Council on behalf of a client in relation to a proposed development on the neighbouring property which was an overdevelopment of the site and also not a lawful use of the site.  The development proposed to turn a small block of units into a multi-dwelling site that was not in keeping with the heritage and landscaping and tourist attractions for the picturesque location.

We await an outcome but hope that the development will be rejected by Council.

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