On Friday 16 April, Kangaroo Point Residents held a small protest in front of City Hall. They were calling for Brisbane City Council to honour its commitment to fight a controversial development application on Lambert Street in the Planning and Environment Court after pre-trial talks between council and the developer appeared to indicate a deal had been struck.

The group said that the Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner, refused to speak to protesters, though leader of the opposition Cr Jared Cassidy, and Councillor for Morningside, Kara Cook, did speak with the group and offered their support.

Say No to 108 Lambert St spokesperson James Lingwood said Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner had written to residents on 25 January to promise that “Council will seek to rigorously defend the decision to refuse this application”.

“It now looks like Councillor Schrinner has backflipped on this decision — they’ve entered into a confidential dispute resolution process which, unlike the actual Court hearing, is not on the public record,” said Mr Lingwood.

“After looking at what the developer has suggested as amendments to their application, it looks like they are making only a few very minor tweaks to a development application that openly flouts the neighbourhood planning scheme. This is not rigorously defending a decision. ‘Rigour’ stands up to public scrutiny and debate. It’s looking increasingly likely that council is going to roll over and not defend their decision in court.”

“This is unacceptable, especially when our lawyers have provided council with new evidence that the development application should never have been considered in the first place,” he said.

Mr Lingwood said new legal advice showed one of the three buildings proposed for 108 Lambert St exceeded the 15-storey neighbourhood plan height limit.

He said an assessment by independent surveyors and architects had determined that the proposed development was actually 16 storeys, not 15 storeys.

“This means that the application should never have been reviewed under code assessment guidelines and the current appeal in the Planning and Environment court should not be entertained by the court,” he said.

Mr Lingwood said residents were calling on the Lord Mayor to acknowledge his planning team got it wrong and send the development application back to the drawing board.

“Code assessment shuts the community out of any say over developments that impact their neighbourhood,” he said.

“The council did the right thing in initially rejecting this application, and this new legal advice provides a stronger ground for them not to roll over to developer demands. We are asking Lord Mayor Schrinner to fight for the integrity of town planning for all of Brisbane,” he said

Mr Lingwood said the new legal advice showed the matter should be thrown out of court.

“Avoiding this legal challenge would save council many thousands of dollars. Admitting this development application was not properly assessed will mean those legal fees can be better spent on fixing footpaths and potholes and upgrading playgrounds,” he said.

Mr Lingwood said council was obliged to lawfully conduct the state planning scheme, and that allowing developments to slip through the net as code assessable instead of impact assessable would have a ripple effect throughout the city.

“Council should be a model litigant in all matters, and so must fight this application and treat our legal submission openly and transparently,” he said.

“If council does not conduct its planning scheme in accordance with the law, then it’s thumbing its nose at state law, at the state planning minister Steven Miles and at the voters of Brisbane. This should be a concern to every Brisbane resident because if council can’t follow the laws in Kangaroo Point, then it can’t follow them in New Farm, in Toowong or in Coorparoo…every suburb is in the firing line if this kind of mistake goes unchallenged,” he said.

The Development Application A00526050 for three 10-storey towers was approved by Brisbane City Council in June last year. Developer Pedro Pikos subsequently submitted A005542190 asking for an increase in height to 15 storeys.

The application was rejected by Brisbane City Council on 11 December. The developer has taken the matter to the Planning and Environment Court (Appeal No 3611 of 2020). On 26 March Pikos (via Main St Projects) filed a change application for the appeal to be considered based on a number of changes to the DA, based on discussions with Brisbane City Council.

Lori Sexton of Say No to 108 Lambert St in Court on Friday 16 April, Council did not file any affidavits against the development.
“And at no stage during the hearing did the Council give evidence of a “robust” defence or indication they would be filing vigorous defence to this development.”
Ms Sexton said the question is why Council is not willing to accept professional assessments and opinions which could support of the case Council is defending.
Parties return to court on 4 May.
Member for South Brisbane said in as Facebook post that she doesn’t understand how an active developer in the area is allowed to have a say on neighbourhood planning,
“I’m interested to see Council’s response in court.”
“I will be writing a letter to the Lord Mayor asking for his commitment to stand by the residents of Kangaroo Point and fight against this appeal.”
Ms MacMahon encourages local residents who are concerned to write to the Lord Mayor at lord.mayor@bcc.qld.gov.au

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