Insights Library

Development Requires Experience and Passion

John Cicero

Very few people would disagree that there is a housing supply crisis in Australia, yet property developers can face myriad obstacles to providing the stock. The community cost of providing the infrastructure required for an ever-sprawling metropolitan area is huge, so much of the emphasis of state government policy is on increasing the options available in established suburbs.

We are practised in the town planning jurisdiction for 40 years and are passionate about facing the challenge of housing the state’s growing population and meeting pent-up demand. We need to create supply in our established suburbs at a price that people can afford to pay and the current settings in planning and development law certainly have been an impediment to achieving that.

Net migration to Victoria last year was nearing 130,000, for which up to 40,000 new dwellings may be required. Yet, many local councils have tried to ‘ring-fence’ their suburbs from higher density development with municipalities in transport and community asset-rich areas, attempting to restrict development to no more than two dwellings per lot.

In our experiences with local government, we argue for further municipal amalgamations to create super-councils that may break down the artificial barriers between municipal districts to get a constant set of policies that evenly distributes and provides the housing that we need. As a result, we need to ensure that change happens in a way that keeps Melbourne one of the best cities in the world to live in.

However, it is usually frustration that usually brings developers through our doors.
Developers are frustrated with a system that takes too long to make a decision, and secondly, when a decision is made it is often made for the wrong reasons. Often planning reasons are political rather than strategic, which we believe should govern the outcome. Furthermore, the delays of many months aren’t helping the planning system deliver the outcomes that we need and the delays cause a lot of unnecessary costs.

Our advice for developers is to seek counsel at an early stage. With our experience, we can provide strategic advice on how to get to the end result in the most expeditious way. We can advise whether developers are pushing the boundaries and how they should be de-risking the development application.

With 12 lawyers in our planning department, we have the expertise and breadth to make us the largest planning firm that is developer focused in Melbourne, offering lawyers at various levels of seniority that can help developers through a range of issues.

We handle planning matters from townhouses to greenfields sites and multi-apartment and high-rise developments. We also have a very good sense as to whether a project is likely to be successful, or needs to be modified.

John Cicero

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