Full Name: Ms Serena Armstrong
Phone: +61 3 9225 7777
Mobile: 0427 579 889
Chambers: Isaacs Chambers
Room: 1225
Date of Admission: 28 May 2004
Called to the Bar: 10 May 2018
Qualifications: LLB (1st class honours), Bachelor of Creative Arts (Hons)
Previous Occupation: Senior Associate, Best Hooper


Serena was admitted to practice in 2004 and brings over 15 years' experience in commercial and public law, specialising in planning, environment, heritage and land acquisition matters. She appears in the Supreme Court, Federal Court, VCAT and Planning Panels on behalf of government and private sector clients.

Prior to coming to the bar, Serena was a Senior Associate at Best Hooper in their planning and environment team. She has significant government experience, having worked for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning from 2011 to 2015. She has worked in NSW for Ashursts, Freehills and as an associate to the Hon Justice Peter Young AO of the Supreme Court.

Serena read with Emily Porter and her senior mentor was Nicholas Tweedie SC. She is a member of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association and has provided pro bono advice to the Arts Law Centre of Australia over many years.


Serena’s experience includes:

Planning and Environment Law: merits review of planning permit applications, planning enforcement and prosecutions, planning scheme amendments, environmental effects inquiries and advisory committee hearings
Aboriginal cultural heritage and native title: advice and proceedings under the the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic) and the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), including stop orders, CHMPs and access arrangements
Property Law and Land Acquisition: restrictive covenants, easements, land acquisition and valuation
Public and Administrative Law: judicial and merits review, FOI, privacy and human rights
Commercial Law: contract, regulatory matters, intellectual property and defamation


Serena appears both led and unled and accepts direct briefs where permitted under the Barristers Rules. Matters in which Serena has appeared include:

Mordialloc Bypass (IAC)  

  • Appeared with Rupert Watters for the proponent, Major Road Projects Victoria. Instructed by Clayton Utz.
  • Inquiry and Advisory Committee Hearing for an Environmental Effects Statement and Planning Scheme Amendment for use and development of land for the proposed Mordialloc Bypass, a 4 lane freeway. The project was a controlled action under the EPBC Act. Involved extensive evidence on a range of issues including ecology (flora, fauna and potential impacts to Ramsar wetlands), landscape and visual impact, noise, groundwater, surface water and contaminated land.

Shepparton Solar Farms Permit Applications (PCI) [2018] PPV 72

  • Appeared unled on first day, then with Peter O’Farrell. Instructed by Allens for successful permit applicant.
  • Significant panel report on permit applications for use and development of land for a renewable energy facility (solar farm) on agricultural land. Included evidence pertaining to agricultural land use and value, economic impacts, heat island effect and visual impact

Alkero Development Pty Ltd v Stonnington CC (Red Dot) [2018] VCAT 1120

  • Appeared unled, instructed by Gadens for group of successful objectors.
  • Red Dot decision regarding transformation of permits and accrued rights. Permit amendment application seeking permission to construct dwellings in place of approved residential aged care facility.

Parkside Constructions Pty Ltd v Moonee Valley CC [2019] VCAT, oral decision

  • Appeared with Nick Tweedie SC for the permit applicant
  • Successsfully represented the developer in a conditions appeal. The Tribunal deleted Council's condition requiring deletion of level 2 of a six storey apartment building along the Mount Alexander Road Corridor. Included consideration of shadow impacts and design objectives under the design and development overlay.

Yarra C225 (PSA) [2018] PPV 76

  • Appeared unled by direct brief with pro bono assistance from Susan Brennan SC for objecting submitter.
  • Site specific control to allow use and development for a residential aged care facility, with issues including heritage, overshadowing, overlooking, restrictive covenants and pedestrian and vehicular access arrangements.

Melbourne C258 Planning Scheme Amendment

  • Appeared together with Susan Brennan SC and Carly Robertson instructed by Melbourne City Council.
  • Planning Scheme Amendment to revise the local heritage policy, replace the letter grading system for all heritage places and to implement the findings of the West Melbourne Heritage Review by amending and introducing heritage overlay controls.

Mornington C214 Planning Scheme Amendment

  • Appeared unled, instructed by DSA Law for an objecting submitter.
  • Planning Scheme Amendment to implement the findings of stage 2 of the Morning Peninsula Shire Heritage Review by introducing heritage overlay controls.

Fossey v Yarra Ranges Shire Council [2018] VCAT, oral decision

  • Appeared unled by direct brief for the successful permit applicant.
  • Permit granted for a dwelling in land in the Rural Conservation Zone subject to multiple overlays including a Bushfire Management Overlay and Environmental Significance Overlay.

Marshall v Mornington Peninsula SC [2018] VCAT 1331

  • Appeared unled, instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright for the successful objector.
  • Permit amendment refused for extension of opening hours and increase in patron numbers for a licensed café/restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula.

D.Arc Architects v Yarra CC [2019] VCAT 704

  • Appeared unled, for the objector.
  • Successfully represented neighbouring objector in s79 proceedings where Council determined it would have granted the permit subject to conditions. The Tribunal refused to grant a permit due to overshadowing and visual impacts upon my client's property.

McAdam v Darebin CC [2019] VCAT 2021

  • Appeared unled, instructed by Pointon Partners for the developer.
  • Successfully resisted application for interim enforcement order. Assisted parties to successfully mediate at subsequent compulsory conference. Involved issues of transitional provisions under the neighbourhood residential zone, effect of building permit approvals and advice as to natural ground level


    Areas of Practice


    • Merit Appeals

    Commercial Law

    • Contractual Disputes
    • Intellectual Property & Trade Practices
    • Property & Probate

    Common Law

    • Judicial Review

    Criminal Law

    • Environmental
    • Planning


    Environmental Law & Planning Law

    • Civil Enforcement
    • Merit Appeals
    • Planning Offences
    • Restrictive Covenants
    • Town Planning
    • Water


    • Local Government

    Inquests, Inquiries, Tribunals & Commissions

    Public Law & Administrative Law

    • Freedom of Information (FOI)
    • Human Rights Law
    • Information Privacy
    • Judicial Review
    • Liquor Licensing
    • Merits Review
    • Native Title

    Technology Law & Media Law

    • Broadcasting
    • Entertainment
    • Telecommunications
    From 11 May 2018, liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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