The case of Wason v Gympie Regional Council (No 2)  QPEC 012
concerned an application to the Planning and Environment Court for costs brought by the Appellant following a successful appeal against the Council's decision to refuse a development permit for reconfiguring a lot.
The Court dismissed the application on the basis that the Appellant was not completely successful and that the Council's concerns in respect of the development application were legitimate.
The Appellant contended as follows:
1. costs should be awarded as the Appellant was successful in respect of every issue in dispute in the appeal; and
2. costs should be awarded as the Council acted unreasonably in its approach to the appeal as it incorrectly applied its own planning scheme.
In response, the Respondent submitted as follows:
1. the Appellant was not successful in respect of every issue in dispute in the appeal as the Court preferred the evidence of the Council about the suitability of the land;
2. the Court accepted the Council's argument that the land contained some good quality agricultural land and was not entirely limited to grazing as contended for by the Appellant; and
3. the Council correctly applied its own planning scheme regarding the fragmentation and preservation of good quality agricultural land.
The Court noted that the Council was successful in demonstrating that the land did contain good quality agricultural land and, further, that the Council had genuine concerns about the preservation of good quality agricultural land and found that this was reflected in the relevant planning scheme.
Court has discretionary power to award costs
The Court noted its discretionary power to award costs under section 457(1)
of the now repealed Sustainable Planning Act 2009
and had regard to its decision in Ferreyra v Brisbane City Council  QPEC 010
where it held as follows:
"The discretion is a broad one, to be exercised judicially, but without any presumption that costs ought to follow the event, or otherwise, on the basis that there is some qualified protection against an adverse costs order."
Court dismissed application for costs
The Court found that the Appellant failed to present a strong argument as to why costs should be awarded. The Court was unconvinced that a costs order was appropriate in circumstances where the Council held genuine concerns in relation to the fragmentation of good quality agricultural land.
This article has been published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for information and education purposes only and is a general summary of the topic(s) presented. This article is not specific legal advice. Please seek your own legal advice for any questions you may have. All information contained in this article is subject to change. Colin Biggers & Paisley cannot be held responsible for any liability whatsoever, or for any loss howsoever arising from any reliance upon the contents of this article.