Latest News


Natural Sandstone Rock Face defended in Mosman

Roslyn McCulloch, Partner at Pikes & Verekers Lawyers, successfully defended Mosman Council’s refusal of an application to build a basement garage which would have included excavation into a natural sandstone rock feature which is adjacent to a heritage listed “divided road”. Much evidence was canvassed by the Court in relation to the heritage significance of the rock face and how the proposed garage would impact upon its significance. Ultimately, the Commissioner found that the development would entail destruction of a noticeable portion of the natural rock face, being an important and prominent feature of the divided road, and the development application was refused.

Approval for 4 Storey Residential Flat Building in Coogee

Pikes & Verekers Lawyers were recently involved in a settlement between an applicant and Randwick Council concerning a proposal for demolition of existing structures over two lots (including a tennis court and house), site consolidation and construction of a 4 storey residential flat building containing 16 apartments, with car parking for 29 cars and 12 bicycles.

It’s Time to go Back to the Future on Clause 4.6

Gary Green, a Partner of our firm has been practicing in Local Government, Environmental and Planning Law since the inception of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act in 1979.  He has witnessed and participated in the Act’s evolution over more than 35 years and is a pre-eminent specialist in this practice area in New South Wales.

Sydney Metro Compensation

Our firm has recently successfully settled a number of acquisitions by Transport for NSW for the Sydney Metro in Sydney and North Sydney CBD.

Masterplans and Site Isolation

Gary Green and Alistair Knox successfully ran an appeal in the Land and Environment Court relating to the development of a residential flat building in Petersham. The main issue in the proceedings was whether as a result of the development an adjoining site would be isolated.

Flying the Flag at AIBS Conference

Pikes & Verekers Lawyers attended the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors Annual Conference held on 25-26 July 2016 in Darling Harbour, Sydney. Ryan Bennett and James Fan gave an informative presentation on the duties and roles of expert witnesses in the Land and Environment Court. The paper accompanying the presentation can be found here.

WestConnex - Compulsory Acquisition of Land

David Baxter and Tom Bush have been in and out of the Land and Environment Court this week negotiating section 34 agreements for land being acquired as part of WestConnex and, in particular, valuation issues arising from the Valuer-General's original valuation of our client's land. Pikes & Verekers Lawyers have a wealth of experience in assisting property owners or, alternatively, government authorities, in relation to the acquisition of land by authorities for state or local government development projects including WestConnex, NorthWest Rail Link and the Sydney Metro.

Opposing proposed mergers of NSW Councils

Our local government practice is representing numerous Councils opposing the State Government's proposed mergers in Class 4 proceedings in the Land and Environment Court.

Judicial review case

Gary Green and James Fan successfully defended a challenge to a development consent in judicial review proceedings in the Land and Environment Court. The development consent was for a large residential subdivision at Yamba. The applicant in the proceedings alleged that the determination of the development application by the Joint Regional Planning Panel was invalid due to a failure to consider flooding impacts.

Development application for 24 room boarding house refused

Peter Jackson and Alistair Knox were successful acting for an inner city Council opposing the conversion of an existing two storey, 10 bedroom boarding house into a four storey, 24 bedroom boarding house, with a caretaker's room, common room and basement car parking.

Defamation claim dismissed - consider more carefully, "reluctant gladiator"

Pikes & Verekers successfully represented a defendant in defamation proceedings dismissed by the District Court when the plaintiff brought a claim outside the statutory 12 month time limit. Of significance was that the plaintiff could not specify the date of the publications or the nature of the defamation in his statement of claim, only vaguely claiming that he had been defamed.

Land and Environment Court approves monumental home at Bilgola Beach

Pikes & Verekers Lawyers successfully represented an applicant in proceedings against Pittwater Council in obtaining consent to build an $8M home, architecturally designed by Olson Kundig Architects, which proposed consolidation of two residential lots located at Bilgola on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. 

Quantity surveyors liable for negligence!

Pikes & Verekers Lawyers represented plaintiffs successful in a professional negligence claim against quantity surveyors.  The plaintiffs will recover in excess of 2 million dollars plus interest and costs.

Pikes & Verekers Lawyers - Winners, both in and out of Courtroom

Pikes & Verekers Lawyers have won the annual NSW Young Lawyers Environment and Planning Law Committee Charity Trivia Night trophy. After many years of support for the Committee and love of trivia, Pikes & Verekers have brought home the glory!

We competed against 15 other law firms and over $5,000.00 was raised during the course of the night with all proceeds to be donated to BeyondBlue. The competition was fierce but with our team of Julie Walsh, Roslyn McCulloch, Joshua Palmer, Jennifer Hold, Alistair Knox, Tom Bush and Rachael Jordan (with a couple of "ring-ins") we came up trumps.

Attendance at AIBS annual conference

A number of our lawyers attended the annual Australian Institute of Building Surveyors Conference and presented a paper on the Ralan and Burwood Council case regarding the validity of construction certificates.

Link to paper

Pikes & Verekers named as leading planning law firm

We were named as one of the leading planning law firms, and two of our partners, Gary Green and Peter Jackson, were named as recommended planning lawyers in the 2015 edition of Doyles Guide to Leading Lawyers.

Amazonia Hotels Pty Ltd v Council of the City of Sydney

We were successful on behalf of the applicant in its appeal against Council's deemed refusal of a development application for alterations and additions to the Empire Hotel in Potts Point.

The appeal raised the issue of whether the Land and Environment Court has the jurisdiction to decide a question of compliance with the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 and the Regulations under that Act.

The Court found that it has no jurisdiction to deal with matters relating to compliance or otherwise of the Smoking legislation which is administered by the NSW Ministry of Health. Further, the Court was satisfied that public interest is appropriately addressed by the Smoke-Free Environment Act and its Regulations as administered by the Ministry of Health.

The Court held that the proposed development was acceptable on its merits subject to the imposition of some agreed conditions of consent.

$250,000 fine issued for demolition of heritage listed site

In prosecution proceedings conducted by Pikes & Verekers, the Land and Environment Court fined a developer $150,000 and his company another $50,000. The Court also fined the company that managed the development $50,000.

Justice Biscoe said Mr Gertos, the sole director of the company that owned the land, was the "guiding mind" in the decision to demolish the southern facade despite knowing it to be contrary to development consent.

In sentencing Mr Gertos, the Court found that he acted out of financial gain and had not expressed any remorse. The Court also found that the demolition caused "substantial environmental harm" because the facade had "distinctive character and historical value".

Link to Judgment

Link to Sydney Morning Herald article

Rose Bay Marina modification

We were successful in obtaining an approval in the Land and Environment Court for a modification of the Rose Bay Marina.


The Marina (the two-armed marina in the left of the photo) was modified by permitting 3 of the 4 berths at the northern end of Arm B (the longer arm) to accommodate 37m long vessels (previously restricted to 30m vessels).


The Court found that there would be no material visual impact caused by the modification and rejected the Council’s argument that the previous approval represented a “line in the sand” beyond which no further modification should be permitted. Rose Bay Marina agreed to relinquish 3 swing moorings to offset any potential parking, traffic and ecological impacts arising from the modification.


Link to Judgment

66th Western Group Regional Conference

Our lawyers attended the 66th EDAP conference from 29 April – 1 May 2015 at Penrith. We delivered a conference paper on recent judicial authorities concerning environmental and development enforcement issues. The paper provides a useful summary of a number of cases in the Land & Environment Court and Local Court which would be of considerable interest to our Council and Local Government clients.


Link to conference paper

Land and Environment Court refuses consent for “new age boarding house” under the affordable rental housing SEPP

Gary Green, one of our partners, acted for Sutherland Shire Council in an appeal against Council’s refusal of a “New Age Boarding House” under the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP at Miranda.

The proposal was for 22 dwellings varying in size from 15.4m2 to 21.79m2.

The social planning experts for both parties agreed that the current level of social housing in the locality had reached its maximum threshold, but that with the imposition of a condition restricting occupants to those having minimum incomes designed to exclude social security recipients, the social impacts would be acceptable.

The Council was successful in arguing that the appeal should be dismissed because the proposed condition could not be imposed for a proper planning purpose, having regard to the objects of the SEPP (to provide affordable housing).

Link to Judgment

Prosecution for illegal tree removal

Stephen Griffiths and Jennifer Hold acted for Kogarah City Council and secured a conviction with a fine of $60,000 (plus costs) against a developer who removed two trees without Council consent. An aggravating factor in the case that contributed to the objective seriousness of the offence was the removal of one of the trees from a neighbour’s property without the owner’s consent.

Land and Environment Court refuses consent for increase in student numbers at private school

Peter Jackson, one of our partners, acted for Ashfield Council in an appeal against Council's refusal to modify an existing development consent to allow an increase in student numbers from 1500 to 1700 at Trinity Grammar School, Summer Hill.

The Council was successful in arguing that the modification application was not "substantially the same development" as that originally approved and therefore the Court had no power to approve the application under section 96 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Further, the Court determined that even if it was incorrect in this determination, the amenity impacts of the increase in student numbers (most particularly traffic impacts) were unacceptable.

Link to Judgment

Modern development in a heritage conservation area held to be reasonable despite moderate to severe view impacts

The Land and Environment Court has approved a modern addition across 2 storeys to a highrise building in the eclectic Potts Point Heritage Conservation Area. Joshua Palmer acted for the Applicant whose development was approved. The Court reconsidered the application of its view sharing planning principle in dense urban environments and approved the additions to the building despite serious impacts on harbour views to a number of nearby properties.

Link to Judgment