Apply for an enforcement order

Planning schemes are laws that regulate the use and development of land and may also protect vegetation. Councils and other responsible authorities are responsible for enforcing planning schemes. If the use or development of land is in breach of a planning scheme, a planning permit or a section 173 agreement, the responsible authority – or any other person – can apply to VCAT for an enforcement order. These applications are made under section 114 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

Before you apply

If the matter is urgent you may apply for an interim enforcement order using the application form.

Time limits

There are no time limits when applying for an enforcement order. However, you should make any application for an enforcement order in a timely manner. A failure to make application in a timely way may be a consideration in the decision to be made by VCAT.

Extension of time to apply

Under section 126 of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998, VCAT can extend the time to apply. We can extend the time by which you must make an application to VCAT – if it is reasonable to do so and if extending time would not cause any prejudice or detriment to a party or potential party that cannot be remedied by an appropriate order for costs or damages.

Complete and submit the Application for an extension of time form to apply for more time to lodge an application.

Need help with your application?

VCAT cannot give you legal advice. Seek legal help if you are unsure about your legal options. The following services may be able to help you:

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You may have a legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT (such as a lawyer, town planner, relative, or some other person). In Planning and Environment cases you do not need to have VCAT's permission to be represented.

Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. For more about applying for confidentiality.

Legislation that applies to this type of case

  • When VCAT receives your application we assign a reference number and send you an initiating order. The initiating order gives directions to you about what happens next. The initiating order sets out the steps in the progress of your case to a final decision. The order gives directions to you and other parties about the serving of documents on others and specifies the date of the final hearing, the date of the practice day hearing and if necessary the date of a compulsory conference. We usually schedule a practice day hearing for this kind of application.

    There is usually a practice day hearing in applications for an enforcement order. At the practice day hearing we may hear the merits and make a decision in respect of less complicated applications. Otherwise, we will give further directions about the conduct of the proceeding.

    Read more about steps when VCAT opens a case

  • A compulsory conference is a form of mediation. We use compulsory conferences to allow parties to work together towards a settlement. If you have been told to attend a compulsory conference, you need to prepare an opening statement. Use the opening statement to clearly state your case. It can be a helpful starting point for discussion between the parties. See more about how to resolve a case by agreement.

  • VCAT members decide cases based on the parties submissions and the expertise of the members. In many cases submissions are supported by evidence, witness statements and/or an inspection. As soon as you receive the initiating order, start preparing for the hearing. If you are going to call expert evidence, you must meet detailed requirements and strict timeframes. Gather together the documents you will bring to the hearing to support your case, for example, six copies of your written submission, photographs, videos, and witness statements. Read more about how to prepare for your final hearing

  • The hearing for an application for and enforcement order is not the same as the hearing for a normal planning permit application for review. You may need to give evidence on oath or affirmation.

    Arrive at VCAT with plenty of time so that you are not late for your hearing. Go directly to the hearing room. Do not wait for your case to be called. Write your name on the appearance sheet for your case. The appearance sheet will be on the hearing room table. The hearing gives all parties a chance to make submissions, to give and hear evidence, ask questions, call witnesses and provide supporting documents. Normally the responsible authority makes the first submission, followed by the referral authorities (if any), any other affected party and finally the respondent. Each party has a brief right of reply. Read more about what to expect on final hearing day.

  • The VCAT member may give their decision at the end of the hearing. If they need more time or a site visit they normally give a decision within six weeks of the last hearing date. The VCAT member may give reasons for the decision verbally or in writing. If you want the reasons in writing, make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.