Kingston Council forced to pay developer $17,500 after confusion around its own planning laws

A developer has been awarded $17,500 in legal costs by VCAT after successfully defending a case brought against him by the City of Kingston. In 2014 the council claimed the developer, Wayne Wilson, required a planning permit for the multi-storey development in Cheltenham. The developer asserted that no planning permit was needed because the building was to be used as crisis accommodation and such dwellings are exempt from regular local council planning requirements.


VCAT agreed with the developer in January 2015. His subsequent appeal to VCAT for costs of $91,158.23 for legal fees, lost rental income, an expert witness and environmental damage to the development from the lack of work was reduced to a settlement of $17,500 against the council. It is unclear why the final compensation was considerably less than that being claimed.

When laws meet community

While crisis accommodation development is exempt from local planning laws it does have to abide by state planning laws. Evidently that is exactly what the developer did. Despite this, there was considerable community backlash at the scale of the development in a residential street and it appears council tried to act on behalf of its ratepayers, albeit with not much opportunity for recourse. What appeared to be a clear case of a lack of understanding of the laws was actually muddied by the real and rightful concerns of locals.


It’s both a major embarrassment for the council and an impost on their funds. In this day and age it seems remarkable that such an error could be made by a public institution. Evidently they can and do, and they can prove costly. As a builder or developer it certainly pays to know the range of laws and regulations. Having someone with experience and understanding of planning laws can preclude the need for such costly and drawn out legal battles.

At the time, VCAT acting deputy president Jeanette Rickards, who presided over the hearing, said it “could have been resolved without the need for a hearing”. “There was clear indication that no planning permit was required.”

Arky Design has represented a host of builders and developers in navigating the sometimes complex, demanding and ever changing planning permit landscape. Get in touch now and we can likely tell you about some of our wins.

This story originally appeared in the Herald Sun on June 18, 2015: //

Arky Design Planning Manager

Kate Sullivan is Arky Design’s Planning Manager. We have 14 years experience in navigating the planning, building and legal requirements for large and small development projects. If you have a development that requires the proper planning and building permits and likely legal representation then don’t do what Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqirito did. Give us a call today and start the discussion.

Kate Sullivan:
0430 825 723