Our Team

Matthew Cole

Prop­er­ty, Plan­ning & Projects, Plan­ning & Environment

I am an expe­ri­enced plan­ning lawyer who has advised lead­ing ASX list­ed com­pa­nies, small to medi­um devel­op­ers, gov­ern­ment agen­cies and politicians. 

I have built my prac­tice on pro­vid­ing solu­tions to com­plex plan­ning and envi­ron­men­tal mat­ters. My breadth of expe­ri­ence across gov­ern­ment and pri­vate prac­tice pro­vides me with a unique under­stand­ing of how gov­ern­ment works and how to achieve the best results for my clients.


  • Plan­ning & Environment
  • Strate­gic plan­ning advice regard­ing zon­ing, per­mis­si­bil­i­ty and devel­op­ment standards
  • Respond­ing to DPE and Coun­cil inves­ti­ga­tions and stop work orders
  • Bio­di­ver­si­ty off­sets and rur­al land clearing
  • Devel­op­ment Appeals (Appli­cant and Council)
  • Tree dis­putes
  • Land acqui­si­tion appeals
  • Civ­il enforce­ment and judi­cial review
  • Defend­ing EPA prosecutions
  • Waste and EPL matters
  • Con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed land
  • Vol­un­tary Plan­ning Agreements

Practice & Industry Sectors

  • Environmental, Social & Governance
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Real Estate & Construction


I act for leading developers, ASX listed companies, government agencies and individuals. I advise on a diverse range of issues including approvals and operating licences, development appeals, civil enforcement, judicial review, and investigations by regulators regarding breaches of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Mining Act 1992, Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, Contaminated Lands Management Act 1997 and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. I have a track record of successful litigation in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales in development appeals, civil enforcement, judicial review and tree disputes.

Prior to commencing my role at Swaab, I worked as the Policy Director and adviser to the NSW Minister for Planning to develop key reforms to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and its subordinate legislation. I have also worked extensively in both private practice for a top tier corporate law firm and a boutique planning law firm, as well as for government at the Department of Primary Industries and the Department of Planning and Environment in the development of water legislation, the Local Land Services Act 2013 and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Obtaining an approval to develop land in New South Wales is a cumbersome and highly regulated process. Developers are often unaware of their obligations for aspects of the approval process such as tree removal, road works approvals, crane swing, biodiversity offsetting, heritage, Voluntary Planning Agreements, water licensing, native title and pollution. We can help you to navigate these requirements to ensure that you obtain your approval as quickly as possible and we can ensure that you receive the best defence against compliance action taken by government agencies for breaches of environmental and planning legislation.

Select cases

  • SCE Transport & Logistics Pty Ltd v Wollongong City Council [2017] NSWLEC 1097 – successful Class 1 Appeal to obtain development consent for a materials handling facility.
  • Boral Resources (NSW) Pty Ltd v Camden Council [2018] NSWLEC 1623 – successful Class1 Appeal to obtain development consent for a concrete batching plant
  • NVE Menangle v Wollondilly Shire Council [2022] NSWLEC – successful Class 1 Appeal to defend a decision to refuse consent for a residential subdivision in a mine subsidence district.
  • Australian Coal Alliance Incorporated v Wyong Coal Pty Ltd [2019] NSWLEC 31 – successful Class 4 judicial review proceedings to defend the grant of consent for the Wallarah Coal Mine
  • Lee v Stapleton [2022] NSWLEC 1430 – successful Class 2 proceedings to defend an application against a neighbouring landowner regarding tree height, overshadowing and privacy.
  • Jojeni Investments Pty Ltd v Port Macquarie Hastings Council [NCAT] – successful appeal to the refusal by Council to release documents under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA).

Roles, Membership and Education

  • Phd Candidate – Planning Law (Usyd)
  • Masters of Administrative Law and Policy
  • LLB, Western Sydney University
  • Law Society of New South Wales


Read more Publications by Matthew Cole

In the News

Read more News Articles by Matthew Cole