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Dr Joseph Monaghan


Joseph is a planning and environmental lawyer with extensive experience acting for private clients, local councils, government departments and water authorities.

If planning or environmental litigation is necessary, Joseph will often act as solicitor advocate.

Joseph has been listed in the Best Lawyers in Australia 2020 to 2021 edition for Planning and Environmental Law.


Recent Planning Experience

  • acting for a council as solicitor advocate in relation to a proposal for a controversial residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre
  • acting for a council as solicitor advocate before Planning Panels Victoria for a proposal to amend policy in the planning scheme to provide policy support for tourism uses in the Green Wedge Zone
  • acting for the owner of a major site in which our client successfully rezoned its land through the Planning Panel process to the Mixed Use Zone to facilitate a major mixed use residential development. The matter involved complex planning issues in relation to heritage, building height and mass, public open space, traffic, community objection and setbacks to the Yarra River
  • acting for a metropolitan Council in proceedings at VCAT with respect to the conversion of a former hotel to a multiunit residential development
  • acting for a regional Council in numerous proceedings at VCAT including conditions appeals, declaration proceedings, and planning enforcement proceedings
  • acting for the permit applicant in proceedings before VCAT for a $150 million hotel and apartment development at St Kilda Road. The permit was successfully secured through the compulsory conference process
  • acting as solicitor advocates for Coliban Water and Western Water in proceedings before Planning Panels Victoria to apply environmental significance overlays as buffer protection around waste water treatment plants
  • acting before Planning Panels Victoria for the operator of a major hotel servicing Melbourne Airport in successfully opposing a planning scheme amendment that sought to rezone the hotel land to the Industrial 3 Zone
  • acting before VCAT for the permit applicant for an Islamic school
  • acting for numerous developers at VCAT regarding multi lot subdivisions and developments which have been refused permits on the basis of neighbourhood character
  • acting as solicitor advocates for Melbourne Seafood Centre before Planning Panels Victoria objecting to a proposed residential development. The matter involved complicated issues of land use conflict and industrial residual air emissions
  • acting for EG Funds before Planning Panels Victoria in relation to a major proposed mixed use development. The matter involved complicated issues of land use conflict in relation to the proposed residential use and ongoing industrial uses at surrounding land
  • acting for ISPT in an appeal to the Heritage Council of Victoria with respect to heritage issues at the former General Post Office building.

Recent Environmental Experience

  • acting as solicitor advocates for Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group in proceedings before VCAT regarding the Melbourne Regional Landfill and also the Werribee Landfill
  • acting for St Andrews Golf Club in various proceedings relating to groundwater issues involving Peninsula Hot Springs and Southern Rural Water
  • acting for a council as solicitor advocate in relation to the Ministerial call-in of 4 major state significant development solar farms. The case involved complicated technical issues around heat island effects and the conversion of irrigated land to solar energy facilities.

Recent Compulsory Acquisition Experience

  • acting for the acquiring authority with respect to settlements of compensation for loss on sale claims, advances of compensation and settlements of compensation for various road projects
  • acting for the acquiring authority for the Victorian Desalination Plant pipeline easements, including the conduct of several valuer conferences at VCAT
  • acting in Supreme Court litigation for a claimant for the Regional Rail Link acquisition
  • acting for a claimant against Melbourne Metro Rail Authority
  • acting for water authorities for the acquisition of land for tank sites, water supply easements and irrigation modernisation schemes
  • acting for Councils for the acquisition of land for various projects, including a freight and logistics centre and a bus interchange.

Water Industry

Joseph has for many years provided advice to Victoria’s water industry in relation to a wide range of issues.

A focus of Joseph’s practice for water industry clients has been providing legal advice with respect to issues arising from the provision of infrastructure, including pipelines, channel modernisation projects, tank sites and reservoir upgrades. His experience means clients have a single point of contact to provide advice and assistance with all aspects of these projects.

Joseph also holds a doctorate degree in law for his thesis titled ‘Law and Policy of the Murray-Darling Basin’.

Administrative Law

  • providing administrative law compliance advice to Government agencies
  • review of decisions - internal review, merits review and judicial review
  • IBAC matters involving Local Government.


16 September 2020 - Knowledge

Alfresco dining in Victoria: Enjoying the sun without litigation

#Workplace Relations & Safety, #Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #Local Government, #COVID-19

The new Victorian Government Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package creates new opportunities for local government and hospitality sector to revitalise the economy. In embracing this new initiative, our hosts need to think about potential legal exposure.

13 July 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

With the first two stages of the Local Government Act 2020 delivered, local councils should now consider whether their instruments of delegation need to be updated, and to do so by 1 September 2020.

03 June 2020 - Knowledge

A ‘right to a hearing’ not found to exist in Victorian compulsory acquisition procedure

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The Victorian Court of Appeal has overturned a Supreme Court judgment on a right to be afforded procedural fairness in the compulsory acquisition of land. What does this imply for acquiring authorities and landowners?

06 May 2020 - Knowledge

Overview of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (Vic) – from a planning perspective

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #COVID-19

We look at how the temporary legislative amendments under the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 will affect the Victorian planning industry and the measures in place to facilitate the continual running of the business.

22 April 2020 - Knowledge

Australia’s planning systems and development pipeline continues to function during COVID-19

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #COVID-19

The Australian Government Minister for Cities, State and Territory Planning Ministers, and the President of the Australia Local Government Association have entered into a Communique from Planning Ministers.

25 March 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

As the threat of COVID-19 continues to escalate, local governments across Australia have taken swift action to combat the virus, including recent legislative changes to elections and planning laws. In this article we examine some of those measures and other implications for Councils.

24 February 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

The Local Government Bill 2019 was recently passed by the Lower House. If enacted, the Bill will come into force through a staged process, with the first suite of changes commencing on or before 1 July 2020.

27 August 2019 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

31 July 2019 - Knowledge

The case for a Federal Royal Commission in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan and associated controversy continues to make news.

10 July 2019 - Knowledge

Murray Darling Basin Plan - update

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan and associated controversy continues to make news. Monday night’s ABC Four Corners program ‘Cash Splash’ looked at alleged waste of taxpayer money under the multi-billion plan.

05 February 2019 - Knowledge

Royal Commission finds Murray-Darling Basin Plan partly unlawful

#Royal Commissions & Commissions of Inquiry, #Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin’s report constitutes the most comprehensive analysis to date in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. But it may take a Federal Royal Commission for the recommendations and findings of the Royal Commission to drive change. Our water law expert Dr Joseph Monaghan summarises some of the 800 page report’s key findings.