One of the most delicate aspects of development planning law and the evaluation of planning applications for development approval is the application and interpretation of policies. It is not uncommon for planning policies to seemingly clash, although more often than not, they are intended to be read in conjunction with each other.

Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that there may be instances where one policy is drafted with apparent disregard for another. When I mention disregard, I am referring to a clear and tangible neglect of another policy, beyond matters of subjective opinion.

An illustration of absolute conflict is when, for instance, Policy 1 designates an area as one where development can take place, while Policy 2 designates it as an area where  development is strictly prohibited. However, it does not constitute complete disregard when Policy 1 specifies a maximum of 5 floors for the area and Policy 2 dictates that as the development approaches the edge, it should be scaled down. In the latter case, it implies that the starting point is not fundamentally contradictory.

In any case, I have written this short publication to shed light on what occurs when policies appear to be in conflict.