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Removal of Shrubs to Prevent Consents from Lapsing

The Court of Appeal (Court) in recent judgment of Cardo Management and Maintenance Pty Ltd v Cumberland Council [2019] has established an easier criteria to prevent a lapse of consent, assisting developers and landowners in protecting their development rights. Section 4.53 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (Act) stipulates that a development consent for the erection of a building, subdivision of land or the carrying out of work will lapse if no physical commencement of the development occurs after 5 years.

Land and Environmental Court Judgment

Within the recent judgment, the Land and Environment Court (LEC) had found that the developer had failed to establish that lawful works had physically commenced before the lapsing date of the consent. The developer had removed shrubs and trees as well as erecting fences and disconnecting the water.

The LEC found that the demolition of the trees and shrubs were not completed by a certified arborist as required by the consent, and further, the work on the fence and disconnection of water hadn’t been approved by the Principal Certifying Authority as per the consent. As such, the work done did not lawfully constitute physical commencement of the development.
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Tree dispute principle for claims for structural damage to property caused by a tree

Fang v Li & Anor [2017] NSWLEC 1503

Background

On 19 September 2017, judgment was delivered in Fang v Li & Anor [2017] NSWLEC 1503 to remove two trees pursuant to s7 of the Trees (Dispute Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (NSW) (‘Trees Act’) and established a new tree dispute principle for claims for structural damage to property caused by a tree.

The applicant’s application encompassed the following:

  • removal of a Tulip Tree which he claimed had damaged his property and would cause further damage if not removed and repair costs to his property caused by the Tulip Tree;
  • pruning of a Turpentine Tree which he claimed was likely to cause injury to people on his property.

Judgment

The Court ordered that both the Tulip and Turpentine Trees be removed for the following reasons:

Turpentine Tree

  • The Court found that adequate pruning of the Turpentine tree would remove so much of the crown that the tree would no longer be viable. As such, it was likely to cause injury in the near future and therefore must be removed.
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A tree dispute relating to obstruction of views and sunlight

Rees & Anor v Chen [2017] NSWLEC 1502

Background

On 12 September 2017, judgment was delivered in Rees & Anor v Chen [2017] NSWLEC 1502 dismissing an application brought by Rees pursuant to s 14B Part 2A of the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (NSW) (‘Trees Act’) against the adjoining property owner, Chen. The applicant sought to have the hedges planted in the adjoining property to be limited to a certain height as it was alleged that the hedges have severely obstructed Rees’ view of the Lane Cover River.

Judgment

  • The Court found that the jurisdictional tests in s 14E(2) are not met in regards to the obstruction of sunlight because i) the obstruction of sunlight was caused by a hedge that pre-existed the applicant’s purchase of the property and ii) the sunlight obstructed was not direct sunlight.
  • The Court also found that the jurisdictional tests are not met in regards to the obstruction of views because i) the view of water was across a side boundary and relatively small portion of the overall view available; ii) the loss of views from other rooms was not severe and iii) the obstruction of views from one room pre-existed the applicant’s purchase of the property.
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Prefabricated Buildings Pty Ltd v Bathurst Regional Council (No.2) [2017] NSWLEC 111

Background

On 24 April 2017 judgment was delivered in Prefabricated Buildings Pty Ltd v Bathurst Regional Council [2017] NSWLEC 44 dismissing a Class 3 application brought by Prefabricated Buildings Pty Ltd (‘Prefabricated Buildings’) appealing against a rates notice issued by Bathurst Regional Council (‘Council’). The appeal was brought pursuant to s 574(1) of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (‘Act) and related to an annual rates notice issued for water and sewerage services.

A summary of that case by our Local Government specialists can be found here.

Council’s Notice of Motion for costs

On 10 May 2017, Council filed a Notice of Motion seeking an order that Prefabricated pay its costs in the proceedings, including the costs of the Motion. The case of Prefabricated Buildings Pty Ltd v Bathurst Regional Council (No.2) [2017] NSWLEC 111 deals with this Motion.

At the Motion, Robson J considered at whether a departure from the presumptive rule that each party bears its own costs is warranted and whether it is fair and reasonable in the circumstances to award costs. He looked at whether the applicant acted unreasonably and whether proceedings were solely centred on a question of law.
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