ACAT sets aside decision to approve a development application to consolidate blocks and construct multi-unit housing

Sullivan v ACT Planning and Land Authority & Ors(Administrative Review) [2018] ACAT 76 (27 July 2018)

The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) set aside a decision by the ACT Planning and Land Authority (the Authority) to approve a development application to consolidate two blocks (Block 7 and Block 8) and construct a multi-unit housing block.

Under the Planning and Development Act, the Authority must not approve an act which is inconsistent with the Territory Plan. Rule 3 of the Inner North Precinct Code (and the relevant Braddon Control Plan) required a “minimum block amalgamation” such that Block 6 would have needed to be included in the development application.

The Authority argued that ACAT should not adopt a plain or literal interpretation of the rules but instead use a purposive interpretation and that the purpose of the Precinct Code is to progress towards medium density housing. Applying this purposive interpretation, the Authority argued that rule 3 applied only where one of the thresholds for block amalgamation in rule 4 is triggered.

ACAT decided that the Territory Plan and codes should be interpreted literally, stating “the Territory Plan and the codes that form part of the Plan including the Precinct Code need to be applied according to what they say, not what persons think they should say. If a provision needs to be reviewed and changed, so be it. But until it is changed, it must be applied.”

ACAT similarly interpreted rule 5, relating to the maximum height of a corner block, in this way. To read the full decision click here.   


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