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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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Clarity Regarding Council Entry to a Residential Premise

The recent decision of the Land and Environment Court in Bobolas v Waverly Council (No 2) [2020], the latest instalment of cases between Bobolas and Waverly Council (‘Council’), provides clarity as to the powers of entry possessed by councils onto residential land. This decision considered an application for judicial review challenging a section 22A order issued by Council is accordance to section 124 of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (‘the Act’).

The order sought by Council on 29 January 2020 was to remove waste and refrain from collecting further waste at the property by 26 February 2020. Pursuant to section 124 of the Act, a section 22A order enables council to issue such an order ‘to remove or dispose of waste that is on any residential premises or to refrain from keeping waste on those premises’ if ‘the waste is causing or is likely to cause a threat to public health or the health of any individual’.
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Difficulties due to COVID-19 not an excuse to vacate a hearing date

A recent decision in the Land and Environment Court to set aside a Registrar’s order that a three-day hearing be set aside substantially due to the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the Court’s willingness to facilitate the continuation of hearings, where appropriate, despite the difficulties associated with virtual hearings.

In DVCI Pty Ltd v City of Parramatta Council [2020] NSWLEC 31, during a general call over of all matters pursuant to the Court’s adoption of the COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy, the solicitor for the City of Parramatta Council sought an order that the hearing the subject of the Class 1 Appeal, scheduled to take place in May 2020, be vacated.

The hearing was scheduled to be heard before Acting Commissioner Bindon, who had, as part of the section 34 process, attended the subject site and heard submissions from nearby residents. Council argued that the hearing should be vacated as it was necessary for all relevant parties to attend the site as part of the hearing, which would be difficult in the current climate. Further, Council had only recently retained a planning expert who had not yet attended the site, and was unwilling to go the site due to COVID-19. Despite submissions from the developer as to the prejudice to the developer if the hearing was vacated, and a submission that the matter should proceed by way of audio-visual link due to the fact that Acting Commissioner Bindon had already attended the site and heard from residents, the Registrar ultimately made the decision to vacate the hearing date.
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UTSG Pty Ltd v Sydney Metro (No 6) [2020] NSWLEC 63

A recent Land and Environment Court claim brought in respect of Class 3 proceedings to determine the compensation payable for the compulsory acquisition of a leasehold interest has resulted in the determination that the applicant be awarded nil compensation taking when into consideration outstanding occupation fees, as well as an order for a non-party cost against the director of the applicant company.

In late 2016, Sydney Metro served a Proposed Acquisition Notice on UTSG Pty Ltd (“UTSG”) in respect of its leasehold interest in premises located in Park Street, Sydney, for the purposes of construction of the Sydney Metro – City and South West Project. Sydney Metro had already acquired the freehold interest in the Park Street property, and advised UTSG they required vacant possession of the property by April 2017 and that rent remained payable for occupation of the premises. Rent remained at the amount previously paid by UTSG, being $31,402 per month (plus GST of $3,140) to be paid to Sydney Metro.
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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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COVID-19: New Amendments Affecting Councils

COVID-19: New Amendments Affecting Councils

On Friday 17 April 2020, the NSW Government made a number of legislative amendments to ensure that Councils can operate effectively in the new environment of COVID-19.

Amendments were made under section 747B of the Local Government Act 1993, which allows the regulations under the act to modify its application for the purposes of responding to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.  These amendments automatically expire after 6 months, but may be revoked earlier by Parliament.

These amendments have modified the following:

  • Councils may choose to delay issuing the first quarterly rates notices by one month until 1 September 2020, and extend the payment deadline by one month until 30 September 2020;
  • Councils may immediately waive or reduce fees under a new “COVID-19” category without providing 28 days public notice, and at their discretion;
  • Councils have the option of a one month extension to adopting their 2010-2012 Operational Plans, which includes their Revenue Policy Statements of Fees and Charges and their annual budget;
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Requests pursuant to GIPA Act

A recent Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision has upheld a local council’s decision to refuse an individual’s request for documents pursuant to the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act).

A resident and ratepayer (“the applicant”) who resides in the local government area of the Sutherland Shire Council, made a request pursuant to the GIPA Act for documents relating to Council’s stormwater management investigation in respect of a stormwater issue on/near the applicant’s property, including information on who had directed Council’s officers, and who drafted responses on behalf of Council officers. In particular, the applicant sought the following records relevant to this decision:

  1. I request a record of the written report of the ‘visit’ by the relevant officer/s (ref:8/1/19), CR18-301708 Mr Barber’s email 5/12/18, para 3)
  2. Should no record exist for the ‘visit’ in Item 7, then I request the record supporting Mr Barber’s conclusion: there was no ‘problematic overland flow.’
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