• VCAT

September 19, 2022

VCAT: When Do Applicants Win Against Council?

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 look at some statistics relating to success at VCAT for applicants taking on Council.  Below are results as recorded on the Victorian State Government website for VCAT hearings so far this financial year.  We have limited our sample to the five Councils that we work in the most: Boroondara, Glen Eira, Knox, Monash and Stonnington.


Total number of cases heard: 63
Cases affirmed (won by Council): 30 (48%)
Cases varied (changes made to application but ultimately approved): 15 (24%)
Cases set aside (won by applicant):  11 (18%)
Cases withdrawn (withdrawn before hearing):  7 (10%)

Glen Eira

Total number of cases heard: 41
Cases affirmed: 7 (17%)
Cases varied: 17 (41%)
Cases set aside: 12 (29%)
Cases withdrawn: 5 (12%)


Total number of cases heard: 22
Cases affirmed: 6 (27%)
Cases varied: 6 (27%)
Cases set aside: 8 (37%)
Cases withdrawn: 2 (9%)


Total number of cases heard: 80
Cases affirmed: 53 (66%)
Cases varied: 25 (31%)
Cases set aside: 2 (3%)
Cases withdrawn: 0 (0%)


Total number of cases heard: 58
Cases affirmed: 10 (17%)
Cases varied: 21 (36%)
Cases set aside: 20 (34%)
Cases withdrawn: 7 (12%)

So what does this tell us?  Overall, applicants have won their cases against council outright 20% of the time. Permit applicants have had their applications varied but approved through VCAT 32% of the time.  This tells us that Councils have had their decisions changed 52% of the time.  So overall, the odds are encouraging.

This should be seen in the context of the rates in which councils have success in winning against appeals. Glen Eira has a success rate of only 17%, of winning against appeals, while Monash is successful 66% of the time against reviews of their decisions.  This tells us that Councils have very different success rates to each other and that it appears to be more challenging to take Monash to VCAT than the other councils listed.

What methods lead to successful VCAT cases for our clients? It starts with objective advice about your position. If you have a case we can support, as for any appeal, you will always need strong evidence to support your case.  We use both our experience at VCAT and thorough reviews of applications under the relevant planning scheme to do this. Other methods we employ include negotiating alterations to original applications, including amending plans.  We also encourage the use of employing expert witnesses to support your claims because they are highly regarded by VCAT members.

What do you need at VCAT? Most importantly, you need someone representing you with a track record of proven success.  And that’s where we can help you.

Click here to read more about what is involved in a VCAT case or, 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 on 9824 1902.