• VCAT

September 1, 2020

VCAT introduce changes to method for lodging amending plans

The Planning and Environment Division of VCAT is responsible for reviewing some of the decisions made by local councils on applications for the use and development of land, including decisions on planning permit applications under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. During the review process, it is quite often the permit applicants want to change what they have applied for, such as the use and development or the plans submitted with their permit application.

The Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal has recently released Practice Note (PNPE9) – Amendment of Planning Permit Applications and Plans with the aim of providing clear guidance on what are the steps required for all parties involved when the permit applicant wants to change their permit application AFTER an application for review has already been lodged at the Tribunal.

The practice note states that if a permit applicant wants to change their permit application after an application for review has been lodged at the Tribunal, then they can only do so if they follow the steps described in this practice note, VCAT will then decide whether or not to allow the changes sought by the permit applicant, usually at the start of the hearing.

The practice note sets out:

  • What permit applicants must do when they want to amend their permit application after an application for review has been lodged with the Tribunal;
  • What applicants must do if an application is sought to be amended after an application under section 87A of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 has been lodged with the Tribunal;
  • What other people must do if they want to become involved in the proceeding as a result of a request to amend the permit application or application; and
  • what the Tribunal can do in response to a request to amend a permit application or application.

When does this Practice note apply?

This practice note applies when a permit applicant or applicant wants to amend the permit application or application in the following proceedings under the Planning and Environment Act 1987:

  • Section 77 – refusal to grant a planning permit.
  • Section 79 – failure of responsible authority to make a decision on a planning permit application within statutory timeframes.
  • Section 80 – conditions in a permit.
  • Section 82 – decision to grant a permit.
  • Section 87A – application to amend a permit that was issued at the direction of the Tribunal.

This practice note does not apply in the following instances:

  • Proceedings under other legislation such as environment protection legislation;
  • Administrative or corrective amendments to applications, such as amending the name of a permit applicant;
  • Circulating draft plans for discussion at a compulsory conference;
  • Where the Tribunal has made orders in the particular proceeding which vary or override this practice note; and
  • Where notice of the permit application is required but has not yet been given.

What must permit applicants do to amend their permit application?

The practice note lists out the steps as follow:

Just like all other applications with VCAT, documents and notices must be given to all parties involved, such as:

  • Responsible authority (Local Council)
  • Referral authorities (Such as VicRoads and water companies)
  • Other parties to the Tribunal proceeding
  • People who have already filed a statement of grounds with the Tribunal, but indicated they do not intend to participate in the hearing.
  • People who objected to the permit application, but have not filed a statement of grounds with the Tribunal.
  • Persons the responsible authority required to be notified of original permit application.

What does the Tribunal do when it receives a request to amend the permit application?

The Tribunal will normally consider a request to amend a permit application including proposed amendments to plans at the commencement of the hearing. However, an application may be considered earlier than this, for example at a practice day hearing.

In deciding whether to amend a permit application including any plans, the Tribunal may consider the following matters, as relevant:

  • the extent and impact of the changes;
  • whether all parties and potentially affected persons including referral authorities have been given sufficient time to consider the proposed amendment before a hearing;
  • whether the time limits in this practice note have been complied with and any prejudice to a party or potentially affected person arising from any non-compliance;
  • whether the amendment improves the proposal or responds to issues that have been raised in the course of the decision making process;
  • whether the amendment materially increases the scale or intensity of a proposal or introduces significant changes or new aspects that have not been considered by the responsible authority at the first instance;
  • in the case of proceedings under S.80 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, whether the proposed amendment relates to the condition(s) under review;
  • whether the amendment involves the consideration of additional planning controls or policies that were not previously relevant; and
  • whether any other circumstances would support the amendment.

VCAT will then decides rather to allow or to refuse the amendment request.

Are you thinking of making an application to VCAT?

The team at CS Town Planning specialise in VCAT representations. For an overview of the formal process of lodging a VCAT appeal or how we can assist you in obtaining the best planning outcome, please visit our website or contact our team of specialists now to discuss your needs.