NSW Land and Enviroment Court
Woodhouse v City of Sydney Council  NSWLEC 182
23 October 2013
Council refused to lodged a development application for major demolition and construction works in heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens. The works were for installation of a playground.
Mr Andrew Woodhouse (President, Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Conservation Society) said a DA was required, which would have meant complete notification and public exhibit of plans. The necessity or otherwise of a playground was irrelevant.
Council refused, saying works were exempt and/or were maintenance. Council relied on a State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] for its views.
During the preliminaries Mr Woodhouse filed a subpoena on council requesting current plans. However, these were different to what Council had told residents they were doing and included a very large, ugly, bespoke metal canopy imported from Germany. In other words, councils real plans were not what the artist impression presented to councillors or the public showed. Council was deceiving ratepayers and councillors.
The court agreed with Mr Woodhouse's view saying the canopy could not be exempt as it was too large unless a DA was lodged.
As a result Mr Woodhouse won the case.
No DA was subsequently lodged. No canopy has been built: its fate is unknown.
For the full decision of Biscoe J go to: http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/action/PJUDG?jgmtid=167874
What this court case shows
Proved DAs are required for such cases: the necessity or otherwise of a playground was irrelevant
Was a victory for residents over a public interest matter
Put Council on notice that residents rights are not to be trampled on for political reasons
Showed why Council was wrong to hide their real plans
Required Council had to pay a substantial portion of the applicant's legal costs and their own costs
Showed that the necessity or otherwise of a playground was not a relevant factor
Another summary of this courtcase appeared in the Environmental Law Reporter. 31 December 2013, pp. 11-12. This issue of the Environmental Law Reporter may be consulted in the Fisher Library, University of Sydney.