Part of buying your own home is selecting the neighbourhood you will live in, and the feel of the area and the local community. With Melbourne’s population exploding, however, it’s no surprise that there is a push for bigger residential and commercial developments in even traditionally more outer suburbs. If you have a concern about a development going ahead, what can you do?
1. Find out your local councils processes
Every council must have very clearly defined processes when it comes to developments and objections to developments, liquor licenses and zoning changes. Find out precisely what these are in your area, so that you know exactly what terms to go to the council on. If you follow these processes closely, you are much more likely to have a favourable outcome.
2. Gather other residents
When it comes to swaying a council, there is power in numbers. If the local area is likely to be significantly changed, with traffic conditions, late night venues or blocked views, chances are, you aren’t the only person who will be effected. The more people you have that disagree with the development in your area, the better. If you can organise to take group action following the processes of the council, they will see that a lot of the locals are not happy with the development, and will take action.
3. Know Relevant Rules, Regulations and Laws
Council has to make sure that all new developments follow council rules and all laws. If you are able to show that these are not being followed, you may have a case to take up with your local council. Make sure that you have intimate knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations for the development, so that you can show the ways in which the development is not following these.
4. Keep and get evidence
Make sure that you take as much evidentiary documentation as possible – keep a diary of events, and take photos, videos, and write down anything that is relevant to your case. Make sure you keep all of this evidence, and a clear timeline of events. You are also entitled to much of the documentation pertaining to the development under Freedom of Information. Make FOI requests to both the council and state government to make sure you are armed with as much information as possible about the development.
5. Media and Lobbying
Finally, if you have many residents together, who all agree about not wanting a development to go ahead, you can engage in lobbying the council, your local members, and the member in charge of local governments. The media can also be powerful, if used well, and such cases as the lockout laws and extra costs associated for music venues in Melbourne are evidence that a group of concerned citizens can make a difference through the media. Make sure that you have your group ready to write and lobby members together, and separately, so that your issue gets noticed.
6. Legal Appeals
All developments are subject to the right of appeal in the Supreme Court, Land and Environment Courts and Tribunals. If this development is relating to Indigenous and Torres Strait Island Land, there are also other avenues that can be pursued in the legal system. If the residents’ voices are not being heard, they are allowed to pursue their legal right to a voice through the court and tribunal system. This will take the guidance of an experienced lawyer, as these courts can be costly, difficult to navigate, and involve very intricate areas of law that require expertise in court preparation and arguing.
If you have a concern about a development in your local area, Le Brun & Associates are experts in development and property law. Contact us on (03) 9642 1800 for an obligation free consultation on how to proceed in the process of objecting to a development in your local area.