Respond to an application – Planning disputes

When you get notice about a case from VCAT, find out what this means for you and decide what to do.

Respond to a VCAT case image

If you want to object to a planning decision

If you have received notice of a planning case at VCAT that affects you or your land (Section 77, 79 and 80 or 87A), you can submit a statement of grounds to become involved in the case and contest the planning decision.

What the notice means

You may get notice about a case from VCAT or another party. The notice is an initiating order and will include a copy of the application to VCAT. This means that there is a dispute at VCAT to be resolved.

The person who made the application is the applicant.

The notice may also name a responsible authority or a referral authority.

More about what VCAT does

Why you should come

It's very important that you don't ignore the notice. At VCAT, you can have your say and explore options to resolve the dispute.

If you don’t come, we can make a decision that affects you.

What happens next

Select the type of VCAT case you are responding to and find out what you need to do next.

You can find out the type of case (section number) on the application form sent to you.

If the case is a section 77, 79 or 80 (an application a review of a decision by a permit applicant) or a section 87A (an application to cancel or amend a permit issued by the Tribunal), find out what you have to do to get involved in the case.

  • 1 You receive a notice from VCAT

    Go to next step.

    2 Read and understand the documents

    Carefully read and understand the documents sent to you including the initiating order and the copy of the application form.

    These documents explain the application that has been made to review a decision on a planning permit.

    3 Learn more about the dispute

    You may want to understand more about how Victoria manages planning applications. You can find out more at the Victorian Government’s Guide to Victoria’s Planning System

    You can also find out more about the laws you are responding to by reading the section number of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 that your dispute falls under.

    4 Respond to the application

    If the initiating order requires you to respond with a statement of grounds:

    • Complete a statement of grounds form and send it to VCAT and all other parties in the case. You need to do this by the date we give you in the order.
    • You do not have to pay a fee when you lodge a statement of grounds if you are the permit applicant.

    Submit Statement of Grounds online

    Download PDF form

    5 Try to come to an agreement

    Even if an application has been made to VCAT, you can still try to resolve the dispute yourself.

    If all parties agree on a decision, you can ask for a consent order from VCAT to resolve the dispute. The member may not agree with your request for a consent order. If this happens they may ask you to come to a hearing.

    6 Prepare your case

    You need to be ready to present facts and answer questions about the case. There are documents to organise and decisions to make.

    If you’re attending VCAT by phone or videoconference make sure you’ve sent any documents you want the member to see to VCAT and to the other parties by email.

    The order you receive from us tells you how we will handle your case. Find out how to prepare for a practice day hearing, preliminary hearing, compulsory conference or final hearing. We will also tell you in the initiating order if you should prepare your case as a major case, a short case or a case that will be determined ‘on the papers’.

    7 On the day

    If we’ve told you that your case is being determined ‘on the papers’ or you are attending your hearing by phone or videoconference, you don’t need to come to VCAT.

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference make sure you are ready at the time we give you. It’s too late to ask to attend by phone on the day of the hearing.

    We send you information on how to join the call or videoconference before your hearing.

    If you are coming to VCAT in person

    If you are coming to VCAT, find out about what to expect on the day – including how to behave, and how the hearing works.

    Arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time to get through the security screening (similar to security at the airport) and find your hearing room.

    When you arrive:

    • Check your room at Upcoming hearings or tell a staff member at the counter that you’ve arrived for your hearing.
    • Go to the hearing room and be ready to present your case.
    • Speak to a staff member if you have arranged security, disability support, an interpreter, or technology for your hearing.
    8 Get an outcome

    You may reach an agreement (settle) before the hearing. This agreement is put in writing and signed by all parties. VCAT makes a consent order.

    If you come to a hearing, the VCAT member makes a decision and gives an order. An order tells parties how the case has been decided. All parties must follow VCAT's orders.

    We send the order to you after the hearing. This takes approximately 6 weeks. We will always give you reasons for the order we make.

  • 1 You receive a notice from VCAT

    Go to next step.

    2 Read and understand the documents

    Carefully read and understand the documents sent to you including the initiating order and the copy of the application form.

    These documents explain the application that has been made to cancel or amend a planning permit under section 87 or 89.

    3 Learn more about the dispute

    You may want to understand more about how Victoria manages planning applications. You can find out more at the Victorian Government’s Guide to Victoria’s Planning System

    You can also find out more about the laws you are responding to by reading the section number of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 that your dispute falls under.

    4 Respond to the application

    If the initiating order requires you to respond with a statement of grounds:

    • Complete a statement of grounds form and send it to VCAT and all other parties in the case. You need to do this by the date we give you in the order.
    • You do not have to pay a fee when you lodge a statement of grounds if you are the permit applicant.

    Submit Statement of Grounds online

    Download PDF form

    5 Try to come to an agreement

    Even if an application has been made to VCAT, you can still try to resolve the dispute yourself.

    If all parties agree on a decision, you can ask for a consent order from VCAT to resolve the dispute. The member may not agree with your request for a consent order. If this happens they will ask you to come to a hearing.

    6 Prepare your case

    You need to be ready to present facts and answer questions about the case. There are documents to organise and decisions to make.

    If you’re attending VCAT by phone or videoconference make sure you’ve sent any documents you want the member to see to VCAT and to the other parties by email.

    The order you receive from us tells you how we will handle your case. Find out how to prepare for a practice day hearing, preliminary hearing, compulsory conference or final hearing. We will also tell you in the initiating order if you should prepare your case as a major case, a short case or a case that will be determined ‘on the papers’.

    7 Pay your hearing fee

    We contact you in writing to tell you if you need to pay hearing fees. You must pay before the hearing. If you don’t, your hearing will be postponed (adjourned).

    8 On the day

    If we’ve told you that your case is being determined ‘on the papers’ or you are attending your hearing by phone or videoconference, you don’t need to come to VCAT.

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference make sure you are ready at the time we give you. It’s too late to ask to attend by phone on the day of the hearing.

    We send you information on how to join the call or videoconference before your hearing.

    If you are coming to VCAT in person

    If you are coming to VCAT, find out about what to expect on the day – including how to behave, and how the hearing works.

    Arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time to get through the security screening (similar to security at the airport) and find your hearing room.

    When you arrive:

    • Check your room at Upcoming hearings or tell a staff member at the counter that you’ve arrived for your hearing.
    • Go to the hearing room and be ready to present your case.
    • Speak to a staff member if you have arranged security, disability support, an interpreter, or technology for your hearing.
    9 Get an outcome

    You may reach an agreement (settle) before the hearing. This agreement is put in writing and signed by all parties. VCAT makes a consent order.

    If you come to a hearing, the VCAT member makes a decision and gives an order. An order tells parties how the case has been decided. All parties must follow VCAT's orders.

    We send the order to you after the hearing. This takes approximately 6 weeks. We will always give you reasons for the order we make.

  • 1 You receive a notice from VCAT

    Go to next step.

    2 Read and understand the documents

    Carefully read and understand the documents sent to you including the initiating order and the copy of the application form.

    These documents explain the application that has been made under Section 114 Enforcement.

    More about responding to an enforcement case

    3 Learn more about the dispute

    You can find out more about the laws you are responding to by reading the section number of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 that your dispute falls under.

    4 Respond to the application

    If the initiating order requires you to respond with a statement of grounds

    If you are named as a respondent and you are objecting to the enforcement order, complete this statement of grounds by a respondent form. You do not have to pay a fee.

    If you are an affected person in an application for an enforcement order, complete this statement of grounds by an affected person form. You must pay a fee if you want to participate in the hearing. This is the same fee as you pay to get involved in a planning case as an objector. 

    Send your statement of grounds form to VCAT and all other parties in the case. You need to do this by the date we give you in the order.

    5 Try to come to an agreement

    Even if an application has been made to VCAT, you can still try to resolve the dispute yourself.

    If all parties agree on a decision, you can ask for a consent order from VCAT to resolve the dispute. The member may not agree with your request for a consent order. If this happens they will ask you to come to a hearing.

    6 Prepare your case

    You need to be ready to present facts and answer questions about the case. There are documents to organise and decisions to make.

    If you’re attending VCAT by phone or videoconference make sure you’ve sent any documents you want the member to see to VCAT and to the other parties by email.

    The order you receive from us tells you how we will handle your case. Find out how to prepare for a practice day hearing, preliminary hearing, compulsory conference or final hearing.

    We will also tell you in the initiating order if you should prepare your case as a major case, a short case or a case that will be determined ‘on the papers’.

    7 Pay your hearing fee

    We contact you in writing to tell you if you need to pay hearing fees. You must pay before the hearing. If you don’t, your hearing will be postponed (adjourned).

    8 On the day

    If we’ve told you that your case is being determined ‘on the papers’ or you are attending your hearing by phone or videoconference, you don’t need to come to VCAT.

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference make sure you are ready at the time we give you. It’s too late to ask to attend by phone on the day of the hearing.

    We send you information on how to join the call or videoconference before your hearing.

    If you are coming to VCAT in person

    If you are coming to VCAT, find out about what to expect on the day – including how to behave, and how the hearing works.

    Arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time to get through the security screening (similar to security at the airport) and find your hearing room.

    When you arrive:

    • Check your room at Upcoming hearings or tell a staff member at the counter that you’ve arrived for your hearing.
    • Go to the hearing room and be ready to present your case.
    • Speak to a staff member if you have arranged security, disability support, an interpreter, or technology for your hearing.
    9 Get an outcome

    You may reach an agreement (settle) before the hearing. This agreement is put in writing and signed by all parties. VCAT makes a consent order.

    If you come to a hearing, the VCAT member makes a decision and gives an order. An order tells parties how the case has been decided. All parties must follow VCAT's orders.

    We send the order to you after the hearing. This takes approximately 6 weeks. We will always give you reasons for the order we make.

  • 1 You receive a notice from VCAT

    Go to next step.

    2 Read and understand the documents

    Carefully read and understand the documents sent to you including the initiating order and the copy of the application form.

    These documents explain the type of application that has been made and the section under which it has been made.

    More about responding to another type of planning dispute

    3 Learn more about the dispute

    You can find out more about the laws you are responding to by reading the section number of the relevant act that your dispute falls under.

    Other planning disputes include a declaration, or other disputes under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, the Subdivision Act 1988, the Heritage Act 2017, the Local Government Act 1989, or the Gambling Act 2003.

    You will find the section number on the notice that we sent you.

    4 Respond to the application

    If the initiating order requires you to respond with a statement of grounds:

    • Complete a statement of grounds form and send it to VCAT and all other parties in the case. You need to do this by the date we give you in the order.

    Submit Statement of Grounds online

    Download PDF form

    5 Try to come to an agreement

    Even if an application has been made to VCAT, you can still try to resolve the dispute yourself.

    If all parties agree on a decision, you can ask for a consent order from VCAT to resolve the dispute. The member may not agree with your request for a consent order. If this happens they will ask you to come to a hearing.

    6 Prepare your case

    You need to be ready to present facts and answer questions about the case. There are documents to organise and decisions to make.

    If you’re attending VCAT by phone or videoconference make sure you’ve sent any documents you want the member to see to VCAT and to the other parties by email.

    The order you receive from us tells you how we will handle your case. Find out how to prepare for a practice day hearing, preliminary hearing, compulsory conference or final hearing.

    We will also tell you in the initiating order if you should prepare your case as a major case, a short case or a case that will be determined ‘on the papers’.

    7 Pay your hearing fee

    We contact you in writing to tell you if you need to pay hearing fees. You must pay before the hearing. If you don’t, your hearing will be postponed (adjourned).

    8 On the day

    If we’ve told you that your case is being determined ‘on the papers’ or you are attending your hearing by phone or videoconference, you don’t need to come to VCAT.

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference

    If you are attending by phone or videoconference make sure you are ready at the time we give you. It’s too late to ask to attend by phone on the day of the hearing.

    We send you information on how to join the call or videoconference before your hearing.

    If you are coming to VCAT in person

    If you are coming to VCAT, find out about what to expect on the day – including how to behave, and how the hearing works.

    Arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time to get through the security screening (similar to security at the airport) and find your hearing room.

    When you arrive:

    • Check your room at Upcoming hearings or tell a staff member at the counter that you’ve arrived for your hearing.
    • Go to the hearing room and be ready to present your case.
    • Speak to a staff member if you have arranged security, disability support, an interpreter, or technology for your hearing.
    9 Get an outcome

    You may reach an agreement (settle) before the hearing. This agreement is put in writing and signed by all parties. VCAT makes a consent order.

    If you come to a hearing, the VCAT member makes a decision and gives an order. An order tells parties how the case has been decided. All parties must follow VCAT's orders.

    We send the order to you after the hearing. This takes approximately 6 weeks. We will always give you reasons for the order we make.

Get advice

We can help you understand how to apply. We can’t give you legal advice or tell you what to write in your application. These organisations may be able to help you.

Know Your Council

Find your local council and understand how councils make decisions on planning permits.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)

Information on land planning, property and land titles and land administration.

Help and support

  • If you get a letter from VCAT called a ‘notice’ (and you didn’t make the application), this means someone has applied to us making a claim against you or asking for a decision. 
     
    Our role is to help resolve the dispute by encouraging the parties to reach an agreement (settle)or by making a legal decision in a hearing. 
     
    It’s in your best interests to come to VCAT to have your say. If you don’t attend, we can still make a decision that affects you. For example, you have to do something or pay money to the other person or business. VCAT’s decision can be enforced by a court. 
     
    We’ll tell you if you have to come to a mediation, hearing or compulsory conference by email, mail or SMS. This includes the date, time, location, how to prepare and information about what will happen. 
     
    Read more about what happens at VCAT
     

  • When you come to a VCAT hearing and  give evidence at VCAT you need to support what you say with originals of documents.

    You must bring these documents with you on the day - you can’t give us new evidence after we make a decision.

    Bring copies of your documents for the member (the person who hears and decides cases) and the other people at the hearing. Both sides have a right to a fair hearing so you must show all your evidence to the other people involved in the case. Depending on the type of case, the documents you need could be:

    • affidavits, statutory declarations and witness statements 
    • condition reports, contracts, leases, bond receipts and rental records 
    • quotes, invoices and receipts 
    • expert reports
    • business diaries and financial records 
    • letters and notes of conversations or meetings 
    • photographs and videos 
    • plans and drawings 
    • timesheets and job records 
    • reports from doctors 
    • reports from social workers and case managers. 

    If the dispute is about a product, bring it if it’s a manageable size. You can’t print documents at VCAT but you can make photocopies for a small fee. 

    Find out more about preparing for your hearing

    See also: Can I bring my own technology to the hearing?

  • If you are applying to VCAT, you must share a copy of your application and all other supporting documents that are part of your case (like evidence or correspondence with us) with the person or business you are making your claim against (the ‘respondent’ or ‘respondents’).

    We’ll tell you when to do this. If you disadvantage someone by not giving them a copy of the documents you plan to use in the case, VCAT may make an order or award costs against you.

    Whether you made the application or are defending a claim, if you’re writing to VCAT about your case, you must always send a copy to the other person or business (‘party’).

    You can send copies of your application and other correspondence to parties by:

    • email – if you’ve emailed them before applying to VCAT, or if they’ve given us their email address
    • by post
    • in person

    Make sure you include your VCAT reference number with the documents.

    Read more about how to send documents

    Proof you sent documents

    We need to see proof that you’ve shared your documents for some types of cases:

    Goods and services cases

    For goods and services cases, fill in the Declaration of Service form

    Make sure you:

    • complete all parts of the form
    • sign it before an authorised witness
    • bring it with you to your hearing and give it to the member.

    Planning cases

    For planning and environment cases, fill in the Statement of Service form attached to your order. You need to send this to us by the date we give you in the order we sent you.

    If we don’t receive the form by the date we give you, your application can’t progress and may be ‘struck out’ or cancelled. If it’s struck out, you can apply for it to be reinstated. 

    See also: What’s my VCAT reference number?

  • You can use your own electronic device at a hearing, for example a laptop, tablet, smartphone or USB. 
     
    There is no Wi-Fi at many VCAT venues, so if you need an internet connection you need to have your own. 

    1. Bring your device to the hearing 
      Bring your own device to the hearing, including a charger or power cord, and access to Wi-Fi. 
      If you want to use a USB, you need to bring your own laptop or tablet as private USB devices can’t be connected to VCAT equipment. 
       
    2. Bring an adaptor
      If your device is an Apple product, for example, an iPhone, iPad or MacBook, you need to bring a HDMI or VGA adaptor if you need to connect to VCAT’s equipment (such as a screen).
       
    3. Test your device
      If you want to connect to VCAT equipment in the room, test your device before the hearing to make sure it works.

    VCAT also has projectors, DVD players, LCD screens and other equipment you can book to use at the hearing.

    Contact us to book these facilities

  • When you present your case at VCAT you can include evidence from experts to support your side of the story. 

    An expert report is a written report from an expert that a party uses as evidence in a VCAT case.

    The expert must provide an impartial opinion based on their area of expertise. They must make an oath that their report is written to the best of their knowledge and expertise.

    Any party in a VCAT case  can organise and submit an expert report as evidence. For example:

    • a person involved in a dispute about house renovations may ask a building consultant to provide an expert report
    • in a planning case, a party (including objectors) may ask for a report from an aborist or heritage architect

    The expert is generally expected to come to the hearing to explain key elements of the report. It allows the member and the parties to ask questions about the report. We tell you if we don’t expect the expert to attend, or you can ask us whether they need to come to VCAT.

    Find out how to prepare an expert report

    See also: How do I send documents to other people in the case?