Court update

16 December 2010

More problems with the levy cap

The Land and Environment Court has stated that the government’s $20,000/$30,000 per lot cap on development levies does not apply to non-council consent authorities, such as joint regional planning panels.

Apparently, this interpretation arises because the Department of Planning’s formal direction imposing the cap (available here) says it only applies to “councils as consent authorities”. The judgment of the land and Environment Court is here. The relevant paragraph is number 15.

This issue was not central to the case before the court at the time, and therefore does not necessarily create a binding precedent. Nevertheless it is desirable that this ambiguity be quickly resolved by the Department of Planning. We are making appropriate representations.

Solar access planning principle

A decision of the Land and Environment Court has sought to change a long-standing planning principle on the requirements of solar access to a new development. The Court’s planning principles are used by the Court, and consent authorities, when:

  • there is a void in policy; or
  • policies expressed in qualitative terms allow for more than one interpretation; or
  • policies lack clarity.

The new approach to solar access is partly a response to alleged efforts by some applicants to reduce the size of windows, in order to ensure that a sufficiently large proportion of each window is in sunlight.

A summary of the Court’s new approach has been prepared by HWL Ebsworth and is available here.