Special Counsel
With over 10 years’ experience working in Queensland and abroad, Vanessa provides expert advice in planning, environment and related land use matters.

As a special counsel in Cooper Grace Ward’s property, planning and environment team, Vanessa brings 11 years’ experience specialising in planning, environment and related land use matters.

Vanessa has extensive experience advising developers, local authorities, banks and receivers on a broad range of matters under the Planning Act 2016 (and previous planning legislation), compulsory acquisition, environmental licensing and offences, contamination, remediation and land valuation.

Having worked with some of Queensland’s best planning and environment lawyers, and in-house for a local authority in London, Vanessa balances a detailed knowledge of the law with a commercial and practical approach based on the needs of her clients.


Planning and environment

  • Representing developers, local authorities and submitters in appeals, declaratory proceedings, enforcement proceedings and prosecutions under the Integrated Planning Act 1997, Sustainable Planning Act 2009 and Planning Act 2016.
  • Advising clients on land use and development assessment matters.
  • Advising on environmental issues including contaminated land, approvals and offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
  • Complex due diligence assessments for significant acquisitions by large corporate entities, including matters under the Building Act 1975.
  • Preparing a complex Voluntary Planning Agreement for a major Sydney development.
  • Preparing and implementing an ‘empty property strategy’ to bring abandoned properties back into use for a local authority in London.

Compulsory acquisition and valuations

  • Representing and advising the State of Queensland on a range of compulsory acquisitions under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.
  • Representing and advising resuming authorities and landowners on compulsory acquisitions under the Acquisition of Land Act 1967.
  • Negotiating compensation agreements on behalf of landowners and resuming authorities.
  • Representing and advising landowners on objections to annual land valuations under the Land Valuation Act 2010.

Other commercial experience

  • Representing a bank in a debt sale including developing and administering a large data room, advising on real property securities and involvement in contractual negotiations.
  • Representing banks in proceedings to recover possession of secured properties.
  • Part of a team responsible for document disclosure for a multinational company being investigated and prosecuted by numerous national security regulators, reportedly involving one of the largest document reviews ever undertaken (approximately 80 million documents).

  • Bachelor of Laws – Queensland University of Technology
  • Bachelor of Journalism – Queensland University of Technology
  • Solicitor – Supreme Court of Queensland and High Court of Australia
  • Member – Law Society of Queensland
  • Member – Queensland Environmental Law Association