VCAT’s new Major Cases List for planning developments worth more than $5 million commenced on 3 May 2010.

The Major Cases list is designed to speed up decision-making in the Planning and Environment List. VCAT has received additional funding from the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development.

VCAT President Justice Iain Ross said that the key objective will be to decide cases in the list within 16 weeks of applications being lodged with the Tribunal.

“Our objective is to expedite major cases by ensuring that the process is made clear to the parties at the outset and that hearings are not unnecessarily delayed. Adjournments will only be granted in exceptional circumstances” Justice Ross said.

A new Practice Note will govern the Major Cases List. Key timeline benchmarks will apply to ensure that cases are decided within the 16-week target. These benchmarks include holding:

  • a practice day hearing within 4 weeks of an application being lodged;
  • mediation within 6 weeks of an application being lodged;
  • a hearing within 12 weeks of an application being lodged;
  • a decision or interim decision delivered within 4 weeks of the last date of hearing.

Dates for each of these stages will be allocated as soon as a relevant application is lodged.

With regard to entrance criteria onto the Major Cases List as outlined above, the threshold is set at $5 million cost of development as presented on the appropriate planning permit forms at the time of application to the responsible authority. Notwithstanding this, VCAT has confirmed that the final decision on which cases make it on to the Major
Cases List will be made by a member.

Justice Ross said VCAT also plans to introduce a Short Cases List to deal with short, less complex planning cases. This will also be a sub-list to the Planning and Environment List and will involve cases with limited parties, which would take less than two hours to hear. It has been confirmed that an announcement will be made about this initiative in the near future.

More information and the Practice Note on the Major Cases List are available at www.vcat.vic.gov.au.