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Overlapping responsibilities in Condition of consents for music festivals

The entertainment and live music industry has undoubtedly taken the biggest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. To grapple with the economic fallout, the Federal Government announced a $250 million targeted package to help restart the creative, entertainment, arts and screen sectors.

As event organisers slowly formulate management plans, local councils will undoubtedly play a significant role to consult with other agencies to ensure a COVID-safe environment. The following case of NSW Commissioner of Police v Rabbits Eat Lettuce Pty Ltd [2019] NSWCA 182 is relevant as it demonstrates the complexities of having a condition of consent that involves multiple local agencies.

Background

In 2015, the Richmond Valley Council granted the applicant, Rabbits Eats Lettuce Pty Ltd (REL), temporary development consent to hold music festivals in Koppenduff (the Consent).

One of the conditions, which the Court found was unusual, stated:

Condition 7

 An event must not proceed if either New South Wales Police, New South Wales Rural Fire Service or Richmond Valley Council advises it is unsafe to do so.
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Universal 1919 Pty Ltd v 122 Pitt Street Pty Ltd [2020] NSWCA 50

The Court of Appeal recently considered and upheld a judicial review decision, Universal 1919 Pty Ltd v 122 Pitt Street Pty Ltd [2019] NSWLEC 117 (“Universal  1”). As a result, we now have a unanimous decision from the Court of Appeal of NSW that the statutory requirements found in Schedule 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to afford procedural fairness to a recipient of a section 9.34 Notice are sufficient to exclude any remaining common law rights.

Universal 1 was a decision made by Justice Biscoe in the Class 4 jurisdiction of the Land and Environment Court, in relation to the validity of a Development Control Order No. 10, Restore Works Order issued under section 9.34 and 9.35 and Schedule 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (‘the Act’).

This case also deals with the validity of orders (pursuant to section 9.34) issued to an Owner of a building (the landlord), as opposed to an Occupier.
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Secretary, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment v Wollongong Recycling (NSW) Pty Ltd [2020] NSWLEC 125

The above case in the Land and Environment Court reminds us of the crucial role that investigators of a Public Authority, such as Council Officers, play in upholding the foundational principles and goals of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The carrying out of development without consent or not in accordance with the consent undermines the objects of the Act, and Council Officers are usually the ones who bring this conduct to the attention of the Court.

 “People need to be aware that the offence of carrying out development not in accordance with development consent is a crime, that offenders will be prosecuted and that the Court will impose significant penalties on offenders”  Chief Justice Preston

Introduction

It may seem strange to some people that in today’s day and age where there are large scale campaigns to encourage more recycling by everyone, that an actual recycling plant should be penalized for recycling more than it is lawfully allowed to do on the site. However, the Land and Environment Court made such a decision recently in relation to an offence by a large recycling company operating in Wollongong.
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Introduction of Local Government COVID 19 Regulations – Financial Relief

 

The State Government on 17 April 2020 has made the Local Government (General) Amendment (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (‘COVID-19 Regulation’) to amend the Local Government (General) Regulations 2006 (‘Local Government Regulations’). This amendment was sparked by the strict procedural and financial provisions within the Local Government Act 1993 (‘Local Government Act’), limiting councils in providing financial relief for ratepayers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These changes to the Local Government Regulations has allowed councils to waiver or reduce fees in response to the pandemic and delay payment of an instalment of rates over the next month (from date amended). Additionally, the COVID-19 Regulation has permitted councils additional time to prepare the following documents over the next month (similar from date amended):

  • Budget review statement for the quarter ended 31 March 2020
  • Annual reports
  • Audited financial reports
  • Operational plan

It also allows council to notify and provide inspection of various documents through their website rather than in newspapers or at council’s officers.
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Builders Beware – The Importance of Council Approval

A recent Land and Environment Court Case highlights the importance of obtaining Council approval before spending time and incurring costs in constructing a secondary dwelling on a property.

The case of Sutherland Shire Council v Perdikaris [2019] NSWLEC 149 tells the tale of a man named Mr Perdikaris who made the decision to build a new shed on his property in Menai, to replace a small garage which was not suitable for his needs.

He started by seeking Council approval, which was granted, for the building of a driveway. This application did not contain any reference to the construction of a garage. Mr Perdikaris then sought quotes for a garage. During this process, he received advice from various companies that he did not necessarily need approval for a new garage. Mr Perdikaris also assumed that as there had already been approval for the previous, smaller garage, it would not be necessary to seek approval for a larger garage, in circumstances where the larger garage kept the same distance from the neighbours fence as the smaller garage had.
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Compulsory changes to NSW Parking Fines – 10 Minute Grace Period

Starting 31 January 2019, amendments to section 123C of the Road Transport (General) Regulation 2013 were introduced by Road Transport (General) Amendment (Parking Fine Flexibility and Grace Period) Regulation 2018 which states that Councils will now be required to implement a regulated 10 minute grace period for certain paid parking offences that have a duration of more than one hour. These changes will affect all parking fine issuing authorities including NSW government agencies, Local Councils and Universities. These changes are compulsory and are not related to the recent NSW governments ‘opt in’ provisions to reduce the amount of parking fines.

What this means for you?

  1. Councils should ensure that their authorised issuing staff are made aware of these changes when issuing parking fines from 31 January 2019.
  2. Councils are encouraged to update any relevant manuals, procedures and systems that are involved with respect to parking fines.

Conditions for 10 minute grace period:

Councils are only required to enforce the 10 minute grace period if the following parking conditions are met:
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Increased Council and Court Powers under the recently reformed Environment Planning and Assessment Act

The recently reformed Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (the Act) continues to be rolled out over the first half of 2018. As well as the other amendments aforementioned in our previous article, one of the major changes to the Act is with regard to the increased powers given to Local Councils and Courts when dealing with complying development certificates for local development applications.

In order to achieve the NSW Government’s primary purpose “to promote confidence in our state’s planning system”, the Act aims to enable Local Councils and Courts to adequately and appropriately deal with developments and their relative certificates with more ease by granting them increased powers in this area.

Below is an outline of the major increases/changes in powers issued to Local Councils and Courts:

 

Powers to suspend work under a complying development certificate

Under the new amendments, Councils will have new investigative powers to suspend work under a complying development certificate for up to 7 days. Due to the generally fast paced nature of Complying developments, Council authorities have often found it difficult in using their current enforcement powers to ensure that improper or flawed complying developments are not being built. This new amendment seeks to address this issue, as it allows Councils to completely suspend works on a site while the 7 day investigative period happens, ensuring that they are able to fully exercise their enforcement options with regard to complying developments.
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Key Amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act

On 1 March 2018, the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (the Act) underwent its largest and most significant change since it commenced in 1979. Many of the changes are expected to be implemented throughout 2018 with further amendments being rolled out over the course of the next two years.

The NSW Government has stated that the amendments provide “an updated, modern planning system that is simpler, faster and designed to ensure high quality decision and planning outcomes for the people of NSW”. The Bill was before NSW Parliament last year and was the subject of much parliamentary debate. The Bill was ultimately assented to on 23 November 2017.

Below is an outline of some of the key amendments made that will have a significant impact on local councils:

Amendments to the EPA Act Structure

One of the more noticeable reforms is the structural amendments that have been made to the Act. The former sections have been removed and replaced with 10 principal parts with decimal numbering of all provisions. Certain provisions have also been relocated as well as updates to the objects of the Act.
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