Learn about the stages of the VCAT appeals process for Planning Permit application decisions, including lodging the appeal, receiving VCAT correspondence and attending the hearing.

Stage 1: Lodge the appeal

To lodge an appeal:

  1. Complete an Application for Review form, available from the VCAT website.
  2. Submit the form to VCAT and pay the relevant fee.

For questions about the appeal process or the information required with your appeal, contact the VCAT registry staff.

Stage 2: Receive the Initiating Order

After you lodge your appeal, VCAT sends you an Initiating Order, usually by email. The Initiating Order provides important information, including:

  • hearing date
  • details of any compulsory conferences or practice day hearings
  • timeframes for the appeals process
  • responsibilities of all parties.

If you are unsure of the requirements of the Initiating Order, contact the VCAT registry staff. Council’s Statutory Planning Department can also offer general advice.

Compulsory conferences

A compulsory conference is an opportunity for the parties and Council to informally discuss their issues and potentially reach an agreement without a hearing. If the Initiating Order lists a compulsory conference, you must attend the conference or VCAT may remove your right to remain involved in the appeal.

Practice day hearing

In some cases, the Initiating Order or subsequent correspondence from VCAT will advise you if a practice day hearing has been listed.

The purpose of a practice day hearing is to resolve procedural issues before a compulsory conference or a merits hearing. The procedural issues usually relate to the future conduct of the appeal, such as the duration of the hearing and how long the parties will take to present their case.

Stage 3: Notify objectors to the Planning Permit application

If anyone objected to your Planning Permit application, you (or your representative) must send certain information by mail that:

  • states an appeal has been lodged
  • provides the objector with sufficient information to understand the nature of the appeal, and
  • includes a Statement of Grounds form for the objector to complete if they wish to participate in the appeal.

Contact VCAT for more details on what you need to send to objectors after you have lodged the appeal.

Learn more about objector participation in VCAT appeals.

Stage 4: Prepare for the hearing

To prepare for the hearing, it's important to collate information to support your case. Points to support your case should come from your Statement of Grounds, and refer back to the relevant planning scheme controls and policies that Council considered when determining the planning application. 

Council’s Statutory Planning Department can advise you of the relevant planning scheme controls and policies.

What you say and the material supplied at the hearing is called your Submission.

The VCAT website includes information about making and writing your Submission, as well as suggested templates. Council recommends you use these templates.

You have the option to represent yourself at the hearing or engage a professional. Council’s Statutory Planning team are unable to advise you about this matter.

Stage 5: Attend the hearing

At the beginning of the hearing, any preliminary matters are discussed. The discussion may include how long the hearing is likely to take or what to do if a party has not complied with their obligations as set out by VCAT.

The preliminary discussion is also your opportunity to ask the VCAT member questions about the hearing or the process. This is your opportunity to raise any concerns about the process or the conduct of other parties.

At the hearing, parties speak in the following order:

Each party only has one opportunity to make their submission, so it's important that your submission includes all the points you wish to make.

After all the parties have made their submissions, Council and objectors have a Right of Reply. This is an opportunity to respond to any new matters that may have arisen after you made your submission. This is not an opportunity to restate your case or make concluding remarks.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Council and all parties have the opportunity to discuss what conditions VCAT should place on the Planning Permit, in the event VCAT decides to approve the planning application. This discussion is without prejudice, and does not affect what you have said in your submission.

Council’s role at the hearing

Council has two roles at the hearing. Council’s first role is to inform the VCAT member of the history of the planning application (and any other relevant matters), the details of the property and the surrounding area and the relevant policies, controls and guidelines that apply.

Council’s second role is to make a submission in support of its position. The length of Council’s submissions will depend on the reasons why Council has made its decision. Council will usually be represented by a qualified town planner from the Statutory Planning Department. In some cases, Council will be represented by a consultant or its lawyers. This depends on the complexity of the planning application, whether legal issues have been raised, and Council staff availability.

Stage 6: VCAT's decision

VCAT can either make a decision at the very end of the hearing or reserve their decision.

If VCAT reserves their decision, they generally issue a written decision after 4 to 6 weeks. The decision is usually sent by email. You can contact Council’s Statutory Planning Department if you are unsure of the implications of the decision.

VCAT’s decision is final and binding to all parties. No further right of appeal exists, unless VCAT has made a legal mistake in their decision. If there is a legal mistake, then a right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria exists.

Further information

For more information, contact:

VCAT's Planning and Environment registry staff

Council's Statutory Planning Department

Note that this information does not replace professional town planning or legal advice. VCAT and Council's Statutory Planning Department can assist with questions, however they are unable to advise whether to lodge an appeal. You can choose to seek your own professional town planning or legal advice before lodging an appeal.

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