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Companies fined for ignoring planning permit
24 July 2013
A developer and builder have been fined $20,000 each after failing to follow conditions on a planning permit for a Richmond apartment development.
The developer and builder were also ordered to jointly pay $75,000 in costs to Council after pleading guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court last month.
The companies landed in court after demolishing walls of a building in Newry Street, Richmond in breach of their planning permit, despite repeated warnings from Council officers that the demolition required approval from VCAT before it could proceed.
Yarra Mayor Cr Jackie Fristacky said the court’s decision sent a clear message to developers and builders that ignoring planning rules or cutting corners in the process to save time could have costly consequences.
“The reason Councils attach conditions to planning permits is to ensure building works are done in an appropriate and sensible manner that reduces the impacts on residents and businesses as much as possible, and also to protect local character and heritage,” Cr Fristacky said.
“Since 2007, Council has prosecuted more than 200 building related offences in the courts.
“When the situation warrants it, we have a duty to the community to take a tough stance and prosecute permit breaches to the full extent of the law.
“If Councils don’t take a firm line on these matters, then we potentially open up our streets to inappropriate development and an irreversible loss of heritage.”
Overview of prosecution
A planning permit was issued in July 2011 for a proposal to modify a two storey brick industrial building that dated back to the early part of the 20th century into a four storey apartment development.
A condition of the planning permit instructed that some of the existing exterior brick walls were to be retained in the new development.
It was made clear to the applicant and consultants that any alteration to the condition regarding the walls was required to be approved by VCAT as it had ordered the issue of the planning permit.
Council officers instructed the companies how to seek an amendment to the planning permit and advised them it required the approval of VCAT.
Yarra Planning Compliance Officers conducted an inspection at the site in January 2012 and found that the demolition of walls had occurred, prompting the legal action.
Manager - Construction Management
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