The city council refused a couple sought permission to build two dwelling units, one single-story and the other two stories, near the coast in a designated flood zone (“Land Subject to Inundation Overlay”). Melbourne Water, the regional flood manager, had indicated that it did not object to the project, provided the ground floor was elevated to an adequate height. The core issue for the Tribunal was whether a coastal hazard vulnerability assessment—which would specify the nature and degree of risk arising from sea level rise and related flooding—was prerequisite to the council’s review of the building application. Noting a recent change in state planning policy and observing that “coastal hazard vulnerability assessments will too become more routine in the planning process,” the Tribunal upheld the council’s refusal and instructed Owen to commission an assessment before resubmitting his application.
The same parties again came before the Tribunal after Owen commissioned an assessment. The Tribunal found the assessment inadequate because it had considered only flooding related to coastal hazards and had ignored the risks attendant to riverine flooding, which was also expected to worsen with climate change.