Planning and Development Disputes

Uninhabited areas of land within cities are often targeted for planning and development projects, which typically include the construction of residential and commercial buildings, or existing infrastructure changes and improvements. For instance, an abandoned factory might be revived as a multi-use residential community. A part of the bay could be reclaimed for the construction of shopping centres and condominiums. These projects provide revenue not only for the developer, but also for the location at large.

Nevertheless, development projects can disrupt the quality of life for existing communities in the surroundings and damage the environment. A new, residential site could increase noise, traffic and air pollution, while new shopping centres could destroy the bay and wildlife that depend on it. Land reclamation is another common cause of conflict in communities. The projects can thereby encounter opposition from residents, environmental associations, and other stakeholders in the community. Project developers may find themselves facing multiple disputes, as each stakeholder voices their opinion on the project at hand.

Development projects typically undergo review and approval from the local government or council before the work is initiated. This includes submitting an environmental impact review or assessment to prove to the council that it will not damage the natural surroundings. The council may approve the project, provided it follows certain guidelines. For a builder seeking to construct a building near a creek, a local council may require the plan to include a drainage system that discharges water properly. If drainage becomes an issue, the builder and local council may find themselves at conflict. It’s also quite common for communities to raise project issues to the local council prior to commencement in efforts to prevent any future issues.

Planning and development projects can be a win-win when early consultation helps resolve many matters of contention and satisfies the interests of the community, the government and those of the developer. At SHAW Arbitration, we can offer the opportunity for developers, residents, local associations and other stakeholders to communicate their perspective of a dispute, with a decided outcome, stemming from any of the following:

  • Local councils and building permits
  • Local government
  • Owner-builders’ responsibilities
  • Clubs and associations
  • Infrastructure changes
  • Land use
  • Disputes involving vegetation and trees
  • Environmental damage and waste
  • Coastal protection
  • Nature conservation
  • Air and water pollution
  • Resources and energy
  • Tourism and hospitality
  • Trade practices

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Alison Shaw of SHAW Mediation successfully mediated a contract and building works dispute for one of our clients.  I found the mediation to be useful in requiring the disputing parties to be in one place at one time, allowing each side to express their position (and even vent their frustrations) whilst being kept in line by an experienced mediator. It was by no means certain to me beforehand that the matter would resolve at the mediation, but Alison’s guidance and systematic approach facilitated a commercial settlement.  I am confident the parties would not have reached a better outcome if they had gone to court.  I rate highly the mediation process used by Alison Shaw in this matter, and would recommend her to other clients considering mediation in the future.

Matthew Hawke

Cowell Clarke