Ciaran Houston

Ciaran Houston

Principal Planning and Environment | Brisbane
07 3231 0410 Download vCard

Ciaran practises in the areas of local government, planning, environment and compulsory acquisition law.  His expertise is complemented by a background in property and commercial law.

Ciaran’s experience includes acting for local governments, State government departments, property developers and commercial clients across a diverse range of projects and properties all over Queensland.

He regularly appears on behalf of clients in the Planning and Environment Court, Land Court of Queensland and Magistrates Court on all manner of appeals, originating applications, land acquisition and valuation matters and complaints relating to development offences. 

Ciaran is well respected in his field and is known for having a strong focus on developing a strategy and being outcome focused, which helps achieve commercial results even in the most complicated of circumstances. Ciaran’s commercial property background gives him a valuable insight into the objectives of property developers and commercial clients.

Ciaran is a member of the Queensland Environmental Law Association (QELA) and is an active member of the QELA conference committee. Ciaran is also a past member of QELA’s legislative review and seminar committees.

Leading Planning & Development Lawyer
Doyles Guide, 2017

Ciaran's Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Laws, Queensland University of Technology
  • Bachelor of Creative Industries (Media Communication), Queensland University of Technology
  • Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland

Ciaran's Expertise

  • Planning, development, infrastructure, environment and local government
  • Appeals and applications in the Planning and Environment Court
  • Compensation disputes and valuation objections
  • Proceedings and complaints relating to development and environmental offences

Ciaran's Leadership

  • Queensland Environmental Law Association
  • Planning Institute of Australia (Affiliate)
  • Conference Committee, Queensland Environmental Law Association
  • Member, Queensland Law Society

Ciaran's Recent Experience

Area of Expertise

Area of Expertise

Planning appeals

Work Undertaken

Planning and Environment Court appeal against Brisbane City Council’s refusal of the development application.

Representing the developer in a submitter appeal in the Planning and Environment Court challenging an approval for a residential development in North Queensland. The development site was on a steep slope and required significant evidence from a variety of expert witnesses.

Acting for an established shopping centre owner in a Planning and Environment Court challenge to a development approval for a competitor’s shopping centre which was proposed for nearby site.

Representing a local government in two separate and related appeals against Council’s refusal of applications to place houses in a known riverine flood area.

Area of Expertise

Area of Expertise

Major projects

Work Undertaken

Preparing submissions to the State government on behalf of an Association about a controversial major infrastructure project which resulted in the State directing an independent review of the project.

Advising in relation to the 700ha+ development of North East Business Park and North Harbour project. Ciaran’s involvement has included the negotiation of whole of development infrastructure agreements and making a successful application to the Planning and Environment Court seeking changes to the overall development approvals.

Area of Expertise

Area of Expertise

Strategic planning advice

Work Undertaken

Carrying out a legal review of a North Queensland local government’s draft planning scheme.

Drafting and reviewing a distributer-retailer’s draft water netserv plan.

Area of Expertise

Area of Expertise

Compulsory acquisition and compensation

Work Undertaken

Representing the claimant in two related Land Court applications regarding disputes about compensation for land resumptions. Both claims for compensation were settled by negotiation and the claimant was paid significant compensation and interest in respect of business and land losses.

Area of Expertise

Area of Expertise


Work Undertaken

Acting for several local governments and land owners in relation to a variety of development offences including vegetation clearing, retaining walls, swimming pool fence matters, unlawful building works, unlawful uses, unlawful operational works, plumbing and drainage non-compliance and environmental offences.

Ciaran's recent publications

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  1. Qualifying for compensation under the Planning Act 2016

    31 Jan 2020

    Have you actually heard of someone being paid compensation under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld)? If not, that is unsurprising - it is a tricky regime with complex qualifying requirements. Financial compensation is a common remedy in Queensland’s legal...

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  2. To Airbnb or not to Airbnb? — that is the question

    26 Sep 2019

    To Airbnb or not to Airbnb — that is the question You’ve just bought a new unit at the beach – congratulations, you broke into the market! Instead of renting to a long-term tenant, you opt to list the property on Airbnb where you can...

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  3. How relevant are “relevant matters”?

    18 Sep 2019

    Since the new test for assessing impact assessable development applications was introduced by the Planning Act 2016, a number of questions have been on our minds: Will relevant matters be the same as sufficient grounds? Will the new test lead to a greater...

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