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Local Government & Planning Law Services Sydney

Local Government and Planning Lawyers in Sydney, where our expert team at Coutts is dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of planning and local government law. We understand the importance of getting it right the first time and offer a comprehensive range of services to ensure your development projects proceed smoothly. With our expertise in compulsory acquisitions, environmental law, and more, our Sydney team provides exceptional guidance and representation for councils, private clients, and businesses alike. Explore our services to discover how Coutts can help you achieve success in your planning matters.

At Coutts Sydney, we pride ourselves on delivering tailored, client-focused solutions for a diverse range of planning and local government issues. Our team’s extensive experience, coupled with a deep understanding of the Sydney region, enables us to provide expert advice and representation in various aspects of planning law. Whether you’re a developer, council, or individual seeking guidance on land acquisition, environmental law, or development contributions, you can trust our dedicated team to provide the insights and support you need to achieve your goals.

Planning Matters Sydney

Planning and Local Government Law is complex, and getting it right the first time is crucial. When considering a development, it’s essential to consult with Coutts and your expert advisers before submitting an application or appeal. Coutts can provide advice on a wide range of topics, including objections to prescribed development standards, subdivisions and consolidations, re-zoning applications, development application matters, third-party objections, drafting public positive covenants, voluntary planning agreements, appeals, existing use, and local government appeals and litigation. These services encompass various appeal types, freedom of information requests, and applications for declarations, injunctions, or compensation for failure or delay. By seeking professional guidance, you can navigate the intricacies of planning and local government law more effectively.

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Planning Matters
Compulsory Acquisitions

Compulsory Acquisitions Sydney

Coutts Sydney Lawyers possess extensive experience in aiding councils and private clients with land acquisition matters. They offer assistance in various ways, including advising on statutory rights under compulsory acquisition legislation, representing clients in negotiations regarding compensation amounts for acquisitions, and providing representation in compensation appeals brought before the Land and Environment Court.

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Environment Law Sydney

Coutts boasts extensive experience in Local Government and Planning, representing both Councils and defendants in Class 5 prosecutions in the Land and Environment Court, and defending private clients in various prosecutions under multiple Environmental Acts. Our Sydney team’s experience on both sides provides a unique insight and enhances their investigatory tools.

Coutts also advises Councils on matters related to the creation, modification, and repeal of Development Contribution Plans, including understanding the legislative framework, negotiating and drafting Works in Kind Agreements, and Voluntary Planning Agreements. Our Sydney Lawyers have successfully represented Councils in disputes over development contributions.

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Environment Law

Local Government & Planning Lawyers Sydney FAQS

Before commencing development on your property, you need to consider what type of development you want to undertake and where it will be located on the property. Once you know this you can complete your due diligence with the help of a professional to help you understand what experts you will need to be involved in the process.

For example, you may be intending to undertake a knockdown rebuild, however, if you are on a bushland property you may need to consider do you need to remove any trees. If so, do you need approval to remove those trees? If those trees are threatened species or a habitat for a threatened species then biodiversity provisions may apply. If this is the case, you may need to engage an arborist or an ecologist. A specialist report called a Biodiversity Conservation Assessment Report (BDAR) may be required.

Coutts can help you understand the issues you may face before starting your development to ensure you are informed and to make the development process smoother.

A Local Environmental Plan divides the Council area (or Local Government Area) into land use zones. Land use zones help to identify what types of development are allowed in each area.

Councils use LEPs to guide the planning decisions in relation to both private and public land through zoning and development controls, these include zoning, maximum building height and floor space ratios.

A DCP supports the LEP by providing specific and detailed development controls. These controls include minimum rates of car parking, setbacks for buildings and minimum landscaping requirements.

Compliance with a DCP is more flexible than the Controls stated in an LEP as it is not a legislative instrument. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP & A Act) provides Councils flexibility in applying the Controls set out in a DCP where alternative solutions can be applied to achieve the objectives of the zone, Control etc.

There are 12 SEPPs, which each focus on a separate planning principle being Exempt and Complying Development, Biodiversity and Conservation, Industry and Employment, Resilience and Hazards, Resources and Energy, Transport and Infrastructure, Planning Systems, Precincts—Central River City, Precincts—Eastern Harbour City, Precincts—Regional, Precincts—Western Parkland City, Primary Production.

SEPPs are policies prepared by the Department of Planning and Environment. Generally, they deal with land use and urban and regional development in a state-wide context. However, they may deal with specific sites with state significance or provide a legal framework for a specific planning issue. The effect of a SEPP is that it can override a LEP, prohibit certain types of development, or allow development in a certain zone.

A SEPP can act as standalone planning law, having legal force, such as the SEPP for Exempt and Complying Development.

The purpose of the SEPPs is to free up the planning process and expedite development.

A landowner or Council can seek rezoning of land.

A landowner can lodge an application to have their land re-zoned to allow currently prohibited development. This process requires an amendment to the Local Environmental Plan and requires approval from the Minister of Planning.

Council can also seek to re-zone land within their LGA.

The five-step process to re-zone is set out below:

Preparing a Planning Proposal

Who? Landowner/developer on behalf of the planning proposal authority

What? A detailed argument outlining the importance and benefit of amending the legislation and, importantly, how the proposed rezoning fits in with the strategic vision for the locality.

The planning proposal authority in most circumstances in the local council; however, there are a variety of other authorities which may have input into your situation.

Gateway Review
Once Council or the local consent authority resolves to support the planning proposal, it is then forwarded to the Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE) seeking a “Gateway Determination”.

Community Consultation
This comes in the form of the proposal being made publicly available by exhibition, submissions may be made by the public. Further, a public hearing into the proposal may be required.

Following the consultation period, the submissions will be reviewed by the relevant planning proposal authority. If the planning proposal authority is ready to proceed, then the Parliamentary Counsel (or the local consent authority i.e. Council, in some cases) will prepare a draft Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

LEP Finalisation
The Minister or their delegate will grant approval for the publishing of the new Local Environmental Plan on the NSW legislation website, and the plan becomes law.

The Department is presently reviewing this process and proposed reforms are expected to come into effect in 2023.

The answer to this question will depend on several factors.

There are four types of subdivisions, being:

  • Strata title subdivision;
  • Torrens title subdivision;
  • Boundary adjustment; and
  • Consolidation of lots.

The process to subdivide your land will depend on the type of subdivision you want to undertake.

However, generally the process involves the following steps:

  1. Prepare and lodge DA
  2. Apply for Subdivisions Works Certificate
  3. Apply for Subdivision Certificate
  4. Lodge Plan for registration with Land Registry Services.

It is also important to understand the costs involved such as:

  • Surveyors fees
  • Legal fees
  • Other expert fees, if additional reports are required;
  • Development Application fees;
  • Developer Contributions (section 7.12 contributions); and
  • Registration fees.

Other factors to consider are:

  • Zoning of the land
  • Provisions of the relevant Development Control Plans
  • Provisions of the relevant environmental plans, such as minimum lot size.

We have previously advised a client that minimum lot size is not a development control, it is a development standard. Because lot size is a development standard Council has the discretion to vary the standard on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, Council could approve the particular development being undertaken by our client.

If you have unapproved structures on your property, the risk is that Council will issue a Development Control Order. Development Control Orders allow councils to deal with issues of non-compliance by issuing a stop work order, compliance order or demotion order.

A Notice of Intention to Issue an Order must be issued by Council.

A Notice does not need to be given for:

  • Stop Work Orders;
  • Some Fire Safety Orders;
  • Orders given in an emergency; or
  • Orders given by the Minister of Planning or the Planning Secretary in connection with State Significant Infrastructure.

When a notice is issued, you have the right to make representations in relation to the Proposed Order.

The Notice of Intention must state the reasons why the Proposed Order is being issued. If the order is issued, you have a right of appeal to the Land and Environment Court.

If you do not comply with a Development Control Order you may be found guilty of a criminal offence and liable to a penalty.

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