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Planning, Environment & Sustainability

With dedicated teams in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, who also work nationally together, we deal with state and Commonwealth laws in their commercial and practical context to deliver outstanding results and client service.

Planning, Environment & Sustainability

Our hands-on experience gained working both with and within planning authorities, coupled with our work for the private sector, enables us to provide practical, strategic and knowledgeable advice in relation to environmental, planning and regulatory issues.


We act for local councils, developers, institutional and other owners, investors, financiers, construction companies, energy and utility and other infrastructure providers, resource companies, government departments and agencies, including the New South Wales Department of Planning, consultants and others involved in the development, management and regulation of property, natural resources and infrastructure projects. We also have a strong reputation in connection with transactional issues, advocacy and mediation.

Our expertise includes:

  • green buildings and infrastructure
  • energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • emissions reporting and trading
  • obtaining, defending and challenging consents, permits, licences and other approvals
  • navigating planning controls and other regulatory requirements and addressing assessment criteria procedures, including the preparation of applications and environmental assessments supporting those applications
  • drafting environmental planning instruments, planning agreements and other planning documentation and statutory interpretation
  • allocation of risk and liability in connection with the acquisition disposal and development of land, including contaminated sites
  • pollution incidents
  • environmental and planning and other prosecutions
  • environmental compliance and due diligence
  • management and remediation of contaminated land
  • environmental risk assessment
  • biodiversity
  • waste management
  • tribunal and court proceedings, including merit appeals and legal challenges, and alternate dispute resolution
  • resumptions, land compensation and the valuation of land
  • heritage laws
  • native vegetation and threatened species legislation
  • the law and practice of government administration
  • other areas of the law concerning the use, development and management of land and resources and the carrying out of infrastructure projects.



  • 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 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.

Recent transactional experience

  • acting for VicRoads in the preparation of section 173 agreements for Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC) work in kind arrangements
  • Providing GAIC advice to a major residential developer with respect to strategies to reduce and defer GAIC payable.
Chris Lovell

Chris Lovell



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Gerard Timbs

Gerard Timbs



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Recent Posts

31 March 2020 - Knowledge

Land and Environment Court rejects application for easement over community land

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

This article looks at a recent 88K easement case and clarifies critical questions regarding what is an easement at law, what is required to prove “reasonable necessity”, who bears the onus and how impacts on the land are to be assessed.

18 March 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Planning, Environment & Sustainability

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) has declared a “climate emergency”, saying communities need help to ensure their aspirations for meaningful climate change adaption and mitigation strategies are met

18 March 2020 - Knowledge

The good, the bad and the indifferent: Proposed changes to the NSW Independent Planning Commission

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The NSW Productivity Commission has called for significant changes to the role of the NSW Independent Planning Commission. We look at the 12 recommendations put forward to improve the Commission's independence, governance and performance.

11 March 2020 - Knowledge

New legislation overhauling the building certification industry – changes you need to be aware of

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #Construction & Infrastructure

We look at the new Building and Development Certifiers Act and Part 6 of the EP&A Act which are set to give principal certifiers new powers, responsibilities and liabilities.

19 February 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Planning, Environment & Sustainability

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The Planning Institute of Australia has declared a climate emergency, saying that now, more than ever, planners have a responsibility to integrate planning for climate change into their work. This declaration aligns with PIA’s national position statement, Planning in a Changing Climate (2015), and its more recently adopted target.

05 February 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Planning, Environment & Sustainability

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

More than 2,500 homes have been lost in Australia this bushfire season, resulting in architects and residents in bushfire affected communities reconsidering building designs

29 January 2020 - Knowledge

New state environmental planning policy to help protect koalas across NSW

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

New protections for koala habitat in NSW are set to take effect from March. Given the recent destruction by bushfire of important koala habitat, is it important to remember that the loss, modification and fragmentation of habitat has been identified as the key threat to koalas. We take a look at the key changes under the new Koala Habitat Protection SEPP, and also outline the likely limitations.

21 January 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Planning, Environment & Sustainability

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

Unnamed Queensland and Victoria solar businesses have been ordered to pay hefty fines, after being caught misclassifying solar mounting kits imported from China. Earlier this year, the Australian Border Force announced it was tightening screws on the dumping of aluminium extrusions, mostly used to mount solar panels

14 January 2020 - Knowledge

Government Bulletin – summer edition

#Government, #Construction & Infrastructure, #Corporate & Commercial Law, #Data & Privacy, #Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #Property & Real Estate, #Workplace Relations & Safety

In this special edition of our fortnightly publication, we put a spotlight on the government’s ongoing digital transformation and take a close look at some of the key trends and issues as a result of this digitisation.

10 January 2020 - Knowledge

Coastal Management SEPP survives an early legal challenge

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 has escaped relatively unscathed following a challenge brought by a landowner seeking to strike it down.

11 December 2019 - Knowledge

Inside track: Planning, Environment & Sustainability

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability

Industrial property occupiers forced out of the constrained Sydney market are flocking to Melbourne for space, and Brisbane is tipped to be next in line