Planning in Victoria can be complex, risky and uncertain. Not only is the regulatory system difficult to navigate, planning is often the subject of media attention, heated community debate and, at times, significant political pressure.

We can help with

Rigby Cooke is a steady hand in this unpredictable process. We specialise in Victorian planning law and are unique among law firms as our Planning team does not act for local councils.

Rigby Cooke's clients are developers of residential, commercial and retail projects. We have particular expertise in obtaining planning approvals for large-scale developments in established and growth areas but we understand that planning issues have the potential to derail a project of any size.

We can assist you with anything from large scale developments such as tower or high density residential or shopping centres, redevelopment of sites affected by heritage overlays, through to projects that are a little out of the ordinary (by design or by location), where navigation of planning laws and controls are essential in bringing a plan to life.

In addition, we are sensitive to the costs of action around planning and work hard to get the result you need as fast as possible. We are approachable, practical and, above all, commercially-minded.


Rigby Cooke has an extensive track record in helping developers, planning consultants, landowners, and other industry specialists with planning matters. 

Planning disputes are renowned for wasting time, money and resources if not handled correctly. We can help you reduce the impact of a planning dispute and speed up the resolution.

Whether you need help appealing a council or VCAT decision, lodging objections, assisting with planning scheme amendments or drafting section 173 agreements, our team has the experience to produce the outcome you need.

Our team has significant expertise in freeway service centres, high-rise and multi-use developments, shopping centres, land acquisition and compensation work. Complexity does not deter us; we can provide expert advice on the best strategy for potentially problematic planning permit applications.

We can also help landowners who get caught up in the planning process, such as when a heritage overlay or listing is applied.

Our clients come back to us for their planning legal advice because we excel at finding good commercial solutions and we deliver the results they want or better. We work hard to understand your long-term objectives and use our knowledge to provide truly strategic commercial advice.

We can help with:

  • obtaining planning approvals (permits and rezoning of land) for residential, commercial and industrial property developments through VCAT and Planning Panels Victoria
  • a range of different planning disputes at VCAT including compensation claims for loss on sale and permit expiry, extension and amendment
  • appeals to the Supreme Court
  • interpreting planning schemes and related legislation
  • negotiating, drafting and interpreting section 173 agreements
  • planning and environmental policy and compliance
  • Heritage Act controls and appearances before Heritage Victoria and its committees
  • compulsory acquisition of land and compensation claims
  • precinct structure plans and land subdivisions


  • varying, removing and interpreting restrictive covenants
  • negotiating and drafting land use activity agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act
  • road closures, road and freeway access
  • enforcement proceedings and planning prosecutions


When planning a development project, environmental concerns can be a factor in achieving approvals. Rigby Cooke hold extensive experience interpreting and applying national, state and local environmental laws and regulations around environment, and can help you navigate the requirements.

We can provide advice about contamination remediation and pollution abatement, and we can also assist you with issues of threatened species or biodiversity (flora and fauna), water and vegetation that may be intrinsic to your planning application, or are affecting you via another party’s planning application.

At all times, we work closely with you to ensure you know how your matter is progressing, and we consult with you on all decisions so you are satisfied with the final outcome. Your commercial interests are our priority.

We can help you with:

  • land contamination issues
  • environmental audits
  • waste disposal
  • EPA works approvals and licences
  • understanding your native vegetation and biodiversity obligations
  • removal of vegetation and net gain requirements
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