Supreme Court Hearing

There was a great community turn-out to the Supreme Court hearing, with “standing room” only for the first morning. More than 85 people were present to hear Stonnington Council challenge VCAT’s ruling. Even the ‘jury box’ had to be made available to accommodate the crowd.

Justice Karin Emerton presided over the hearing. Stuart Morris QC acted for Stonnington Council and Chris Canavan QC for Lend Lease and Larkfield. Both held the same positions at last year’s VCAT appeal.

Stuart Morris led the Council’s case stating that more than three quarters of the 450 submissions to VCAT from residents were “simply ignored”.

Mr Morris suggested that VCAT had diverged from “established practice” and its decision could be in breach of the Planning Act and in “breach of its own charter”. He stated that this case was important as it went towards “the administration of planning law in Victoria”.

Council argued a second important “error of law”: VCAT’s interpretation of Stonnington Council‘s “‘Large Site Policy” and whether account had been given to the need for developments to reflect the surrounding neighbourhood character.

If the Court rules that the case be referred back to VCAT, Council called for it to be heard before a newly constituted VCAT panel.

The Judge reserved her decision. We will notify you as soon as we hear, which will probably be in the next 2 to 6 weeks.

Our impression of the Supreme Court hearing is far more positive than previous planning hearings. We share the Mayor’s hopes for a positive outcome and “one that respects the opinions of our residents and one that will protect the rights of residents everywhere”. He said “the residents have a right to speak up and be heard”. There is more from the Mayor on the Council web site.

We believe that this will be a test case and perhaps a ‘watershed’ case for planning law in Victoria. Listening to all the arguments and issues raised over the last two days we have a picture of a planning scheme that could be described as a minefield for the community to navigate. It should not be like this and hopefully this case will give a strong message to Government.

 

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by M A Johnston on April 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Thanks Margot and many others. I attended on Tuesday and it was inspiring to see how many turned out – clearly in support of Council and the Orrong Group.
    M A Johnston Windsor Resident South Ward Stonnington

    Reply

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