After a three year battle, Liverpool City Council has won a landmark victory by putting a stop to an illegal development in Warwick Farm.
South West Voice reported that the Council not only won its appeal but the defendant company was fined $500,000.
While not confirmed, it is believed this may be the biggest fine ever imposed by the Land and Environment Court of NSW.
“Liverpool City Council has fought this battle on behalf of our residents,” said Liverpool City Council CEO Carl Wulff in a statement.
“This was the right decision and it will make many people in the community relieved. At the end of the day, businesses must comply with the planning laws,” he said.
Council took Maller Holdings Pty Ltd (Sydney Horse Transport) to the Land and Environment Court of NSW in 2012.
Council accused Sydney Horse Transport of undertaking a prohibited development without consent (operating a transport/truck depot) at 17 Manning Street, Warwick Farm.
It was alleged the truck depot was transporting horses and equipment at all hours, which was disruptive for residents, businesses and the local environment.
Council was initially unsuccessful in these proceedings in a court judgement of September 19, 2013.
Following that judgment, an appeal was launched. That appeal was heard on October 15, 2014, and council received a judgment on December 11 last year.
The decision went in council’s favour.
All three appeal judges agreed with council that the existing consents allowing use of the premises as “stables” did not extend to allow the premises to be used as a transport depot, as originally held by the trial judge.
The matter then reverted to the trial judge for the imposition of a sentence and penalty.
The sentence hearing was held on Thursday, April 2.
Justice Pain found the company guilty and imposed a fine of $500,000.
The judge also ordered the company to pay council’s legal costs on an “as agreed or assessed’’ basis.
“Council’s initial advice is that this is the largest fine that the Land and Environment Court has ever imposed in NSW,’’ a council spokesperson said.
“In coming to the sentence, the court specifically acknowledged the impact of the prohibited use on other residents and businesses in the area.
“The guilty verdict and the sentence will assist council in undertaking enforcement action to ensure the cessation of the unlawful use and reinstatement of the site.’’