Recently, we have seen an increase in enquiries to our office from people wanting to take their Council to VCAT over restrictive permit conditions or refusals. So, we thought it would be interesting to find out some statistics relating to successes at VCAT for applicants taking on Council. Below are results as recorded on the Victorian State Government website for VCAT hearings in the previous Financial Year. We have narrowed the information down to the five Councils that we work in the most: Banyule; Boroondara; Glen Eira; Knox; and Monash.
Total number of cases heard: 38
Cases affirmed (won by Council): 4 (11%)
Cases varied (changes made to application but ultimately approved): 12 (32%)
Cases set aside (won by applicant): 18 (47%)
Cases withdrawn (withdrawn before hearing): 4 (11%)
Total number of cases heard: 88
Cases affirmed: 30 (34%)
Cases varied: 19 (22%)
Cases set aside: 33 (38%)
Cases withdrawn: 6 (7%)
Total number of cases heard: 155
Cases affirmed: 19 (12%)
Cases varied: 39 (25%)
Cases set aside: 86 (55%)
Cases withdrawn: 11 (7%)
Total number of cases heard: 26
Cases affirmed: 8 (31%)
Cases varied: 4 (15%)
Cases set aside: 13 (50%)
Cases withdrawn: 1 (4%)
Total number of cases heard: 99
Cases affirmed: 78 (79%)
Cases varied: 12 (12%)
Cases set aside: 9 (9%)
Cases withdrawn: 0 (0%)
So what does that tell us? Overall, against Council, applicants have won their cases outright 43% of the time and applicants have had their applications varied but approved through VCAT 23% of the time. This tells us that Councils have been overturned 66% of the time. This figure is somewhat misleading overall as readers will note that Glen Eira has a success rate of 12% against Monash with a success rate of 79%. This tells us that Councils have very different success rates to each other and that it appears to be a lot more challenging to take Monash to VCAT over a refusal than the other councils listed... or does it?
Let's have a look at CS Town Planning Service's VCAT statistics for the same period. In the last financial year we represented clients in five VCAT hearings. One of the hearings was against Glen Eira, and the other four were against Monash. Our success was 100% in all matters, meaning our client came away with an approval for their development every time we took a case to VCAT. If you look at the statistics above, you will note that Monash had nine cases set aside at VCAT in the last financial year, with CS Town Planning Services' clients making up 44% of those! This is quite remarkable when you consider that Monash is successful in 79% of cases at VCAT overall.
Like any appeal, you will always need strong evidence to support your case. These may include alterations to the original application, including amending plans. You may also need an expert witness to support your claims. Most importantly though, you need someone representing you with a track record and proven success. So, if you are considering taking your Council to VCAT over a recent planning decision; give us a call for an informal and confidential chat today 03 9824 1902.