Permit applicant - review of a decision

As a permit applicant you can apply to VCAT to review a decision by a responsible authority – usually a council:

  • to refuse to grant a permit under section 77, Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • to impose conditions on a permit that are unacceptable to you under section 80, Planning and Environment Act 1987.

You can also apply to VCAT for a decision on your permit application if the responsible authority fails to decide your application within the prescribed time. Make these applications under section 79, Planning and Environment Act 1987.

VicSmart is a streamlined assessment process for straightforward planning permit applications. The permit applicant is eligible to apply to VCAT for the review of a decision of the responsible authority in the same way as any other planning permit application is eligible for review. VicSmart application has its own application form.

Joint applications

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 allows two or more persons entitled to make an application to VCAT to make a joint application. The guidelines for making joint applications explain what is involved in a joint application and also identify circumstances where the Principal Registrar is likely to determine that a joint application should be treated as if it were a number of separate applications.

Time limits

Time limits apply for this type of application. You must apply to VCAT within:

  • 60 days of notice of decision to refuse a permit or
  • 60 days of the permit or notice of decision to grant a permit when the proposed conditions are unacceptable.

You can apply if the responsible authority does not decide your application within the prescribed time once the time has elapsed. However, the prescribed 60-day time limit is not continuous, the time clock is paused at various stages during the permit application process. Use our elapsed time calculator to confirm that 60 days has elapsed before you apply.

You can apply to VCAT for more time to lodge an application, by submitting the application for an extension of time form. Read more about time limits.

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 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 and, if necessary, the dates of a practice day hearing and/or compulsory conference.

    We do not have compulsory conferences for VicSmart applications.

    If the responsible authority did not give notice of your permit application before making its decision then the initiating order may require you to give notice of the application to neighbours and others who may be affected.  

    Read more about what happens 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 apply to amend plans or call expert evidence, you will have to 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.

  • 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 found 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 objectors and finally the permit applicant. 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.