Local Government Law

Government authorities make decisions and conduct their business through delegated legislation. In New South Wales, the Local Government Act 1993 sets out the framework for the delegation of authority to local councils and the matters they may deal with. We assist clients across a range of matters that may arise when dealing with their local council, including:

  • Seeking approvals under the Local Government Act
  • Notices and orders issued under the Local Government Act
  • Advice regarding the Local Government Act and Local Government Regulations
  • Advice regarding the rating of land
  • Access to information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 including appeals to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
  • Compulsory acquisition of land
  • Leases and licences of community land
  • Advice regarding the Roads Act 1993 and councils as roads authorities
  • Appeals in relation to Local Government orders
  • Tree matters, including appeals under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006
  • Offences under the Companion Animals Act 1998

Local council – notices and orders

Local councils are responsible for town planning and infrastructure within their designated areas; managing resources and recreational facilities; and making laws and regulations concerning issues that impact upon their local community. These laws cover matters such as building and planning, environmental protection, public health and safety, business licensing, the keeping of animals, and certain neighbourhood issues.

Local councils are also responsible for prosecuting offences under these laws by issuing notices or orders. These are enforceable written directions that require the recipient to undertake certain action in response to an alleged offence.

Councils are required to go through an identified process in giving an Order which includes giving a Notice of Intention to issue an Order and providing an opportunity to make submissions as to why the Order should not be issued. Councils are also required to give reasons as to why the Order is to be, or has been, given. A failure to comply with these requirements may make the order invalid.

Development control orders

Development control orders are used to deal with a range of compliance issues under Schedule 5 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act. Failure to respond to a development control order can have significant repercussions for the recipient. The types of order that may be issued include:

  • stop use orders – to stop using specified premises for certain activities
  • stop work orders – to stop building or subdivision work
  • demolition orders – to demolish or remove a building
  • remove advertising order – or to modify an advertisement
  • restoration orders – to restore works or premises to their condition prior to unlawful building or other works
  • fire safety orders – to stop the use of premises for certain activities
  • public safety orders – to install structures or appliances for public safety
  • repair or remove works order – to repair or remove a building in a public place

Tree matters

Trees in New South Wales are generally protected through various planning laws and policies. Council consent may be required to trim overhanging branches from a neighbouring tree. Consent may also be required from the neighbour. Failure to obtain consent can result in fines or being liable to the neighbour for any damage.

Tree disputes are governed by the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006. The Act typically applies to:

  • neighbouring trees that are causing or likely to cause damage to property, or injury; and
  • the obstruction of sunlight or view by a neighbouring tree or hedge.

In such circumstances, the impacted property owner may apply to the Land and Environment Court for orders to remedy or prevent damage or injury caused by the tree. If granted, such orders might include the replacement of a tree ordered to be removed, compensation for damage to property, access to the land to carry out work and payment of the costs for carrying out the work.

We have specific expertise in local government law and encourage you to contact us if you have an issue with your local council relating to these, or other areas.

If you need assistance, contact [email protected] or call 0409 007 794 for expert legal advice.