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 (Hons), BCA (Hons)
Previous Occupation: Solicitor


Serena practices in commercial and administrative law, specialising in planning, environment, heritage and public law. She has significant experience in advising developers and government on planning permit applications and planning scheme amendments and has advised on enforcement, prosecutions, restrictive covenants and land acquisitions. She has a strong background in judicial review, FOI and privacy as well as broader commercial experience in copyright, telecommunications, IT and defamation.

Before coming to the Bar, Serena was an experienced practitioner, having commenced her career as tipstaff/associate to the Hon Justice Peter Young AO of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. In 2005 she joined Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) in its Planning and Environment group in Sydney.

Serena then gained commercial experience in telecommunications, copyright and media law before returning to Victoria. She was a lawyer for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, where she gained a deep understanding of planning and heritage matters, as well as advising on commercial and public law issues.

Immediately prior to coming to the bar, Serena was a Senior Associate at Best Hooper Lawyers in its planning group where she advised on a wide range of planning matters and appeared as a solicitor advocate.

Serena has a Bachelor of Laws (first class honours) and a Bachelor of Creative Arts (honours) from the University of Wollongong and studied at the University of Massachusetts, USA.  She is a classical composer and has volunteered for the Arts Law Centre of Australia over a number of years.

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 the Women Barristers Association.



Since coming to the bar, Serena has appeared before the Supreme Court, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), Planning Panels Victoria (PPV) and the Magistrates Court. She has appeared 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. Instructed by Clayton Utz.
  • Inquiry and Advisory Committee Hearing for an Environmental Effects Statement and Planning Scheme Amendment for use and development of the land for the proposed Mordialloc Bypass, a 4 lane freeway. The project was also declared to be 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 land within the Farming Zone within the Greater Shepparton Shire Council.

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 to change existing permit for development of a residential aged care facility to dwellings in circumstances involving changes to the residential zones and Yarra River corridor protections, introduction of mandatory height controls and proposed changes to built form.

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 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], 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.

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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