No, you and your view are screwed. On to the next question.

Sorry, that was rude. You were kind enough to read this post in the belief that I would offer some helpful (non-legal!) advice or guidance on things like how you can use the law to protect your home (and, just between us, the value of your property, right?).

This is a very serious issue, and I want to do what I can to help. Let’s take a look and see if there is anything useful in our laws that you can use to prevent the development. We can save your view together!

In Australia, we don’t have a legal right to a view from our home, so already we are off to a bad start in trying to stop the development in the park. The only express legal protection you have is if someone deliberately and callously does something on a property next to, or close to, yours that impacts upon your view. Let’s call this person ‘Asshole’ for simplicity sake.

If Asshole was your neighbour, and they decided to erect a massive wood screen in their yard for the sole purpose of blocking your view of the park, you could try to get a court order requiring Asshole to remove that screen. You would have to prove to the court that the only reason Asshole erected the screen was to screw with your view. Really, why else would Asshole have done this? What other use could a giant screen in that particular spot in Asshole’s yard have? These are the sorts of arguments you will need to make, to get the court to find in your favour and have it order the removal of Asshole’s screen.

Other than this limited right, however, there is very little you can do to stop a development that blocks your view. This is really kind of shit, particularly if you have paid a huge amount of money for your lovely home and a good portion of that amount is due to its amazing views.

Don’t worry, my friend. We are not completely out of luck yet. There are still some legal ways of trying to stop the development in your local park. What is critical is that you start taking steps the second you find out that the development is proposed. Once development has started, I can assure you it is almost impossible to legally stop it. So go, now, start taking steps!

Oh, wait, I need to quickly explain what those steps are.

All significant developments on any site in Australia, whether a new development or renovations of a building or home on an existing site, need local council approval. As part of this process, there is always a period of time when the plans for the development are ‘on exhibition’ or ‘on display’ with your local council (for those like me that hate to leave the house, the development plans are available online, on your local council’s website). Read through these plans, and you will find details of the development (including how high it will be and how obnoxious its design will be), but more importantly you will find information on how you can lodge a complaint against the development and the date by which you need to lodge that complaint.

Yes, this means writing a letter to your council setting out why you object to the development in the park, and yes, it is going to have to be fairly long and detailed and formal. There is no way around this, so focus on the prize – preventing that evil, property value destroying, development from going ahead and protecting your view and property value.

When writing your objection, it is a very good idea to do more than just say: ‘I don’t like it’ or ‘it is going to kill the value of my house.’ While these sorts of arguments are certainly true, councils cannot and will not be able to block a development from occurring simply because you do not agree with, or like, the development. You are going to have to get a little more technical in your objection and put together a clear argument as to why the development does not comply with your local area’s development laws.

It’s hard for me to suggest a standard form of letter for you to use, as each development is different, and each objection will be unique to the person making it (that’s you, mate), but broadly what you want to write in your objection are the ways in which the development:

⁃ does not comply with your council’s local planning requirements (these are usually available on your council’s website if you dig around a little. Take a look, I promise they will be there regardless of how old-fashioned your local council is);

⁃ will result in more traffic to your area and less parking for local residents;

⁃ is inconsistent with the way your local area looks or feels. A 60-storey apartment block in the middle of a quiet residential suburb consisting of single level houses is, possibly, inconsistent with the look and feel of that suburb; or

⁃ could result in increased pollution, damage to the local environment, damage to the area (such as through removing trees, damaging roads or footpaths, blocking access to certain streets in your area and so on), or greater risk to children. ‘Think of the children’ is a surprisingly good argument to use, so put it right near the top of your objection, not the bottom of your list like I just did here.

Once you have written an objection you are happy with and that meets all of council’s requirements (remember, these are set out in the development notice), submit it in the exact way that the development notice requires. Some councils require that a physical letter be submitted, others allow you to do it online. Follow. The. Rules. I cannot emphasise this enough. Councils love rules.

Sadly, your brave objection might not be enough to get council to block the development. So let’s try strength in numbers too. You will have a much greater chance of success if you can convince a bunch of your neighbours to get involved and write their own objection letters. I am sure you will know this already, but politicians and other public officials seem to respond very quickly when complaints come from a large group of people, rather than just one individual. One person is easy to ignore. One hundred people objecting to a development are more difficult to ignore, particularly if you all start posting objections on social media, as well as lodging formal objections to the development.

And, while not strictly a use of the law to prevent the development, you could drop a note to your local news organisations. The media love a good underdog story and are always looking for stories to pad out their nightly news broadcasts or fill their newspaper pages. A polite email to them will see news crews arriving at your door, hungry to get your ranting against the development on camera for the viewers at home. The media can then do all the hard work of hassling the local council, and make them look mean and ugly, which will definitely help your cause.

Good luck! I hope that when you have beaten the developer (legally, not physically) and stopped the development in the park, we can have a cup of tea together at your place and admire your wonderful view with the smug satisfaction that comes from a job well done.