Planning and Environment

McLeods is proud to be home to Western Australia’s leading team of local government planning lawyers. Since the beginning we have been recognised for our expertise and forward-thinking approach to planning law and related areas such as environmental, heritage, compulsory land acquisition and compensation for injurious affection.

We have acted and advised in thousands of planning law cases for 40 years which means there is hardly a single issue of planning law or procedure that we are not familiar with.

Our team consists of some of the premier planning and development lawyers in Western Australia and every year, our planning lawyers provide assistance to local governments in hundreds of matters, spanning the entire range of the planning and development process.

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Native Title

McLeods’ team of native title lawyers have been providing support to local governments and private clients in Native Title and Aboriginal Heritage matters for decades. We have been involved in large and small scale cases, and some of our senior team members are the leading native title and heritage lawyers in Western Australia.

McLeods has been involved in numerous large scale Native Title settlements since the first Native Title claims over the Perth metropolitan area in the mid 1990s, and our Native Title lawyers are currently acting for over twenty local governments in relation to the South West Settlements.

Our partner Peter Wittkuhn also acted for the Shires of Broome, Halls Creek, Derby-West Kimberly and Ngaanyatjarraku in native title litigation and Indigenous Land Use Agreement negotiation. Peter Wittkuhn acted in all stages of the Miriuwung Gajerrong proceedings on behalf of mining tenement holders, horticulturists and other private interest-holders, including in the High Court, in what remains one of the milestone cases in the Native Title field.

This extensive experience throughout Western Australia means McLeods is particularly well-equipped to assist local governments in Native Title cases, and we are familiar with the particularities and complexities associated with such cases.

Aboriginal Heritage

In addition to our substantial experience with Native Title settlements, the team at McLeods has complementary expertise in Aboriginal Heritage Law. We act principally for local governments throughout Western Australia, although we have acted on behalf of private interest-holders as well.

We understand that the management of Aboriginal Heritage issues requires unique negotiation skills and calls for heritage lawyers who can master the complex and novel demands of the field. We have a good working relationship with relevant representative bodies which enables us to competently aid our clients in Aboriginal Heritage negotiation and settlements.

Our specialties include:

Development and subdivision applications

house under construction The firm has particular expertise in regard to infrastructure cost sharing arrangements, including local planning scheme provisions for Development Contribution Plans and related instruments, and Developer Agreements for cost sharing arising out of subdivision or development approvals.

We provide advice on matters such as:

  • Validity of planning applications
  • Whether applications are capable of approval
  • Correct use class classification for development proposed by applications
  • Applications involving non-conforming uses
  • Dual applications under the Metropolitan Region Scheme and local planning schemes
  • Whether modification to a proposed development requires a fresh planning application
  • Unnecessary applications relating to development which is exempt from approval
  • Advertising of planning applications
  • Matters relevant to the determination of applications
  • Grounds for refusing approval of development applications
  • Deemed refusal of planning applications


Conditions of approval

writing applicationWe regularly provide advice to local governments concerning conditions of approval for development applications, including:

  • Validity of proposed conditions
  • Whether conditions are a justifiable exercise of discretion in the circumstances
  • Conditions limiting the duration of approval
  • Conditions making approvals personal to an applicant
  • Conditions requiring approval of subsequent matters
  • Drafting & reviewing conditions for inclusion in approvals
  • Representation & negotiation of planning conditions where applicants have challenged them in the SAT
  • Conditions for developer contributions, and Contributor Agreements arising out of such conditions


Planning Litigation

courtMcLeods has extensive experience representing local governments in planning related litigation in the Supreme Court, review proceedings before the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) and proceedings ‘called-in’ by the Minister for Planning.

Since the beginning of the SAT in 2005 we have represented local governments in hundreds of review proceedings in the Tribunal. In addition, we have provided representation in Supreme Court appeals from the decisions of the SAT and in challenges to the validity of planning decisions made by the local governments.


Reviewing and drafting planning documents

McLeods has substantial experience with the preparation of development related agreements including easements, licences and s.70A notifications on title. We also regularly review and advise on a wide range of planning instruments such as local planning policies, structure plans, local development plans and activity centre plans. Our lawyers have assisted with reviewing and advising on numerous proposed town planning schemes and amendments to existing schemes.


Heritage and Environment

beachWith our team of competent environmental lawyers, we are able to assist local governments with all matters relating to environmental assessment, licensing and compliance. We also have extensive experience with heritage matters and contaminated sites.


Development Assessment Panels

meetingsMcLeods regularly advises local governments on matters relating to Development Application Panels (DAP). Additionally, several of our planning and development lawyers regulary attend DAP meetings to provide legal advice.


Compulsory land acquisition

housesWe have represented local governments in many compulsory land acquisition matters as well as claims for injurious affection under Part 11 of the Planning and Development Act, 2005.


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Key Personnel

David Nicholson

David Nicholson

Managing Partner

Denis McLeod

Denis McLeod


Craig Slarke

Craig Slarke


Peter Wittkuhn

Peter Wittkuhn


Scott Wade

Scott Wade


Want to know more?
Contact us today!