Going to VCAT

Going to VCAT

Several people have asked me about lodging an application with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) recently so I thought I would provide some information on it from the perspective of the planning applicant.

Three common types of applications are:

  • Review a Council Refusal
  • Review conditions placed on a Notice of Decision or Planning Permit
  • Failure by Council to determine within the statutory time limit

Council Refusal or contesting conditions on a permit

Both of these application types are similar. The Applicant has 60 days from the date that the first Notice from Council was given, the Notice being either a Notice of Refusal, a Notice of Decision or a Planning Permit. It is important to note that you do not need to wait for a Planning Permit to be issued if a Notice of Decision has already been issued before you can lodge an appeal.

You can request a copy of the Council Officer’s report to assist your case and it can also help guide the Statement of Grounds that you need to provide with the application. It is also handy to request a copy of any objectors or referral authorities and a list of all properties notified at the same time as this information is now requested by the Tribunal as part of the application process.

An important part of your application is the Statement of Grounds. It is this information that will form the basis of your written and verbal submission to VCAT. You need to summarise your key arguments into a precise list, however the grounds should contain sufficient information to enable other parties to respond at the hearing. I don’t know whether Applicants have ever been reprimanded for having too vague grounds, but I am aware that Councils have been reprimanded at times for having too vague Grounds of Refusal which is probably why they tend to be more detailed these days.

Failure to Determine

This type of application is a little different. There is no time limit after which you can’t apply, but rather a time limit before you can apply. Councils have 60 statutory days to decide an application. If a decision is not made within this time you can apply to VCAT.  I have written more on how the elapsed days are calculated here.

In determining if an appeal can be lodged a determination of the total number of elapsed days must be carried out. It is important to note that this can be complex as not all “days” count in the calculation. For example, the date that an application is started is the most recent date after an application was amended or prescribed further information was provided. VCAT have prepared a document to assist in calculating the number of elapsed days which you can find here.

A Statement of Grounds is not required for this type of application, but a calculation of the number of elapsed days is.

If you are considering this type of appeal and need some help with determining elapsed days I would be happy to assist so that you don’t lodge the application prematurely.