Q&As

Glen McLeod on Environmental and Planning Law for Property Lawyers

Tuesday January 16, 2018

Glen McLeod is an environmental and town planning lawyer with over 39 years of experience. He has held senior positions in major Australian, English and American law firms. In July 2012 he established his independent niche firm, Glen McLeod Legal where he practices in the areas of environmental and town planning law. He is a member of the WA Environmental Protection Authority and the Waste Authority, the Chair of the International Bar Association's Environmental, Health and Safety Committee and a member of the WA Law Society's Environment Town Planning and Local Government Committee. He is an Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University where he teaches units in environmental and town planning law. He is a member of the Advisory Group to the Murdoch Dean of Law and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He was recently the recipient of the 2016 WA Law Society's Lawyer of the Year Award. Glen is the General Editor of the national loose leaf publication Planning Law in Australia and an editor of the Local Government Law Journal. Glen Mc Leod

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Glen recently to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.

You can find the full Q&A below.

How does your practice look like/what are the types of matters you find most interesting?

Glen McLeod Legal assist clients in environmental, town planning and land compensation law matters. Our work ranges from large to small matters in the provisions of legal advice, litigation services and commercial negotiations. We are a niche, team based firm whose goal is to effect consistently the best outcomes for our clients. We offer a knowledgeable and experienced team; creative, dynamic solutions to legal problems; and a fair, innovative approach to billing.

Within the property law sphere, we have found matters pertaining to urban infill and contamination particularly interesting and problematic.

What are some of the key trends and developments in environment and planning that might impact property practitioners?

We have witnessed a trend towards greater conflict of uses in relation to residential urban infill, for example. Large scale and ‘bulky’ developments may be favoured by developers. Neighbours oppose these developments due to fears about encroachments on the enjoyment of their property.

What are some of the heritage constraints property lawyers need to keep their eye on?

Property lawyers should keep an eye on the passage of the Heritage Bill 2017. Glen McLeod Legal makes the comment that the new bill will transfer a number of review powers from the Minister for Heritage to the State Administrative Tribunal. This includes powers to:

  • authorise the making of a stop work order
  • review the issue of protection orders
  • revoke/review/confirm repair orders
  • review works permits
  • revoke or amend modification orders and
  • make decisions as to whether the minister has reasonable cause to declare land from the protection and preservation of a place of cultural heritage significance

Glen McLeod Legal makes the comment that the movement of these review powers to the set will inherently improve the transparency of the review process regarding the development of heritage land.

What’s one tip for land development?

When undertaking land development, you should ensure your clients attend to all their due diligence requirements. Within the context of planning and environment law, due diligence requirements include things such as:

  • compliance with the R Codes
  • zoning compliance
  • contingency planning for possible contamination
  • potential conflicts with the local amenity and principles of orderly proper planning and
  • potential for conflict with existing land use

Are there any implications of environmental legislation in property developments that some practitioners may overlook or not fully consider?

If overlooked, State Planning Policies pertaining to bushfire protection and coastal processes may significantly affect the outcome of development applications.

State Planning Policy 3.7 (Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas) is an obligatory consideration when developing rural and non-rural areas that may be prone to bushfires. Among other things, subdivision and development applications for areas at risk of bushfire must be accompanied by a formal Fire Plans, Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Contour Maps and, in the case of development applications, BAL assessments, each prepared by an Accredited Assessor or Bushfire Planning Practitioner.

In a similar vein, State Planning Policy 2.6 (State Coastal Planning Policy) requires proponents of development to undertake coastal hazard risk management and adaption planning in order to provide for long-term protection to current and future landholders. This includes the preparation of risk management plans, positioning of development on the least vulnerable sites, and making provision for Coastal Foreshore Reserves in order to protect coastal habitats and ensure public safety and access.

Are there any environmental and planning issues coming in the future that you think practitioners should keep on their radar?

The Western Australian Government will soon outline a shift in its approach to planning and development, with a view to moving towards a more strategic approach. The modern idea of strategic planning is an evidence-based examination of the character of the area to be planned, an analysis of the future increase in population, an assessment of the goals and aspirations for that future derived with the help of the community, and then a conclusion of the way in which land should be used to further the goals and aspirations.

You can hear more from Glen at the Property Law Review seminar, being held on Wednesday 14 March at the Parmelia Hilton Perth, Perth.

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