Brisbane City Council (BCC) looks as though it has lost pole position in a legal case against Telstra, with the Queensland Supreme Court granting the telco the right to appeal a decision on the placement of a telecommunications pole.
The ruling comes after Telstra appealed against the council’s decision to refuse a development application for a telecommunications facility, comprising a monopole and associated antennas to provide mobile telephone and data coverage in the Brisbane suburb of Paddington.
According to court documents, the proposed monopole was to be sited some 30 metres to the north-east of the existing monopole. The telco’s application involves a slender pole with two identified antenna structures, and was proposed to be 20 metres in height.
The original development application for the facility by Telstra listed a certain location on Telstra-owned land. However, a subsequent, changed proposal seeks to demolish the existing monopole and place the new monopole within a different lot on the land owned by the telco.
According to Telstra, the changes to the application should mitigate the visual impact by reducing the bulk of the antennas, reducing the height of the monopole and increasing the capacity of the facility to meet the community’s needs for telecommunication facilities.
However, the change in location of the monopole will increase the overall height in terms of Australian Height Datum (AHD) – that is, overall altitude.
The question before the court was whether the proposed changes could be deemed a “minor change”.
“On the facts before me I am satisfied that the changes the subject of the modified plans will not result in a substantially different development,” Judge William G Everson said in his decision to allow Telstra’s appeal. “I therefore declare that the changes to the development application are a minor change as defined in section 350 of SPA.
“I further order that the appeal proceed to be heard and determined on the basis of the modified development application,” he said.
ARN understands that the issue, which started in 2015, was prompted by a lack of mobile coverage in Paddington.
However, the BCC allegedly declined that proposal, dragging out the subsequent negotiations for years.
As a result, Telstra lodged an appeal to the court calling on it to intervene in the matter, and for a decision to be made about the replacement of the mobile coverage tower in question.
The decision to let Telstra continue with its appeal against the BCC comes as the council finds itself embroiled in a dispute with one of its IT partners, TechnologyOne, which could potentially boil over into the courtroom.
In January, the BCC revealed it wanted to renegotiate its large IT contract with the software vendor, after uncovering project delivery issues that it claimed could result in a cost blowout worth tens of millions of dollars.
In May, TechnologyOne hit back at its accuser, offering a detailed list of its version of the events leading to the current state of affairs, which may end up being resolved through legal action.
The publicly-listed enterprise software vendor was awarded the contract for the BCC’s local government systems (LGS) project on 30 June 2015 to build a software solution for $50 million over 10 years.
In its latest financials, TechnologyOne revealed that its profit for the six months ending March was impacted to the tune of millions of dollars thanks to its troubled Brisbane City Council project.