Our lawyers regularly advise and represent owners, local councils and other persons in relation to planning prosecutions and enforcement proceedings. While any person may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order against any other person for the use or development of land in contravention of a planning scheme, a condition on a permit or a Section 173 Agreement, such applications are often misunderstood and commenced without understanding the risks of making such application.
Similarly, we act for owners who are prosecuted by a local council for similar breaches. While such matters arise under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, clients being prosecuted do not often appreciate the criminal nature and the possible sanctions including fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars and a conviction. Common misconceptions arise where a landowner is charged with an offence irrespective of culpability in the wrongdoing or where a director of a company is personally prosecuted under the Act. The usual protections such as having the requisite knowledge or intention of the action may not apply.
The most common offences arise where a significant or otherwise protected tree is removed without a permit, building works are undertaken without a permit or land is being used contrary to the planning scheme. Legal advice should always be sought prior to engaging in any action that may contravene the Planning and Environment Act 1987.