|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
1948 to 1969
In 1948 the Town and Country Planning Act 1944 was amended to include provision for a right of appeal against the refusal of a responsible authority to grant a planning permit, or by conditions attached to any planning permit. All determinations were made by the appropriate Minister (Public Works to 1958; Local Government 1958 to 1969).
The Town Planning Appeals Tribunal was constituted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1961 by the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act 1968 (No. 7676). The Tribunal came into being in 1969 and held its first sitting on 28April of that year. It was empowered by Act 7676 to "hear and determine all appeals against decisions of responsible authorities with respect to applications for permits under interim development orders and planning schemes."
The Tribunal initially consisted of six persons and sat in divisions. Each division was composed of a chairman, who was required to be a barrister and solicitor, and two members. The members were to have knowledge that included town planning and public administration, commerce or industry. Changes to the legislation in 1970 allowed the number of members to be increased and additional divisions to sit. The Tribunal generally sat at its city premises but was empowered, where necessary, to conduct hearings throughout the State.
Hearings were intended to be conducted informally and it was provided that the Tribunal would act without regard to technicalities or legal forms and was not bound by the rules of evidence. It could, subject to the requirements of justice, inform itself on any matter in such manner as was appropriate.
Appeals could be made to the Tribunal by persons aggrieved by the:
failure of a responsible authority to grant a permit;
refusal of a responsible authority to grant a permit;
refusal of a responsible authority to consider an application;
conditions in a permit granted by a responsible authority;
failure or refusal of a responsible authority to extend the time of commencement or completion of any development;
certain restrictions on land use and construction as set out in section 19(c) of the Act; or
determination, as an objector, of a responsible authority to grant a permit.
A responsible authority was the body which prepared and submitted a planning scheme for approval or enforced and carried out a planning scheme. It could be the council of a municipality, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works(VA 1107), the Town and Country Planning Board (VA 516) or, in the case of joint scheme involving more than one body, the committee which prepared the scheme. Responsible authorities could also, with the approval of the Governor in Council, make interim development orders prior to the final approval for planning schemes being granted.
Decisions of the Tribunal were provided to all parties to an appeal in writing. Statement of reasons, if not included in the written decision, were provided on request within 14 days of the decision. Decisions of the Tribunal were final and binding on responsible authorities and persons affected by the decision. The only appeal against a decision was to the Supreme Court on questions of law.
Administrative support was provided to the Tribunal by the Local Government Department until 1974. In 1974 the Ministry for Planning Act1973 placed the Tribunal within the Ministry for Planning (VA 600). The Town and Country Planning (Amalgamation) Act1980 made provision for the amalgamation of the Ministry for Planning and the Town and Country Planning Board (VA 516). This amalgamation resulted in the formation of a new department, the Department of Planning (VA 599), effective from February 1981, and the Tribunal was provided with administrative support by that Department until December 1981 when the Tribunal ceased to exist. At that date the Planning Appeals Board (VA 1408) commenced operation and assumed the responsibilities previously undertaken by a number of bodies including the Town Planning Appeals Tribunal.
1981 to 1987
The Planning Appeals Board was established by the Planning Appeals Board Act 1980 (No.9512) which was assented to on 23 December 1980 and which came into operation on 1 December 1981. The Board heard appeals against decisions made by various bodies in planning and land use matters until 1987.
The Board consisted of a chief chairman and a deputy chief chairman, (each of whom was to be a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of not less than eight years standing) up to six senior members and any number of full time and part time members as were necessary from time to time. All members were to be appointed by the Governor in Council and were not subject to the Public Service Act. A registrar was appointed subject to the Public Service Act.
The Board assumed the jurisdiction of several former authorities that heard appeals, which Act 9512 specified as:
Town Planning Appeals Tribunal (VA 598);
Environment Protection Appeal Board;
any arbiter appointed under section 569AA(1A) of the Local Government Act 1958;
Health Commission of Victoria established under the Health Commission Act 1977 in exercising its jurisdiction under section 95 of the Health Act 1958;
Minister administering the Port Phillip Authority Act 1966 in exercising his jurisdiction under section 9 of that Act.
The Board had jurisdiction to hear and determine any matter in respect of which jurisdiction was conferred on it by the following acts;
Drainage Areas Act 1958; Health Act 1958; Local Government Act 1958; Town and Country Planning Act 1961; Port Phillip Authority Act 1966; Strata Titles Act 1967; Environment Protection Act 1970; Cluster Titles Act 1974; Drainage of Land Act 1975; any other act.
The Board exercised its jurisdiction by hearing cases in divisions. A division could consist of between one and five members. When a division comprised more than one member, if neither the chief or deputy chief chairmen were part of the division, a senior member was appointed as chairman of the division. In such cases, determinations were made by majority vote of members of the division, with the chairman having the casting vote. The intention in constituting divisions was that the members hearing particular appeals would have legal or other knowledge and experience relevant to the appeal. The division which heard matters related to drainage was known as the Drainage Division.
The Board could sit anywhere in Victoria as determined by the Chief Chairman but generally sat at Melbourne. Determinations of the Board were final and binding on all parties to the appeal. The only venue for appeal against determinations of the Board was to the Supreme Court. Such appeals against determinations could only be made on points of law.
The Board was empowered to use a system of compulsory conferences of parties to an appeal prior to the appeal being heard. The purpose of the conferences was to clarify issues, identify questions of law and to attempt to resolve issues without the need to proceed to a full hearing.
Section 25 of Act 9512 provided that:
(a) Shall, in hearing any appeal, act according to equity and good conscience and the substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities or legal forms;
(b) is bound by the rules of natural justice;
(c) is not required to conduct any proceedings in a formal manner; and
(d) shall hear and determine appeals as quickly as is consistent with the requirements of justice.
The Board further had discretion to accept evidence orally or written, under oath, affirmation or declaration. It could direct the Registrar to issue summonses to people to appear before the Board or to produce specified documents as evidence before the Board.
1987 to ct
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1984 (No.10155) established the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The relevant sections of the Act came into operation on 5 December 1984. Section 19 of Act 10155 provided that the Tribunal would operate under two divisions, the General Division and the Taxation Division, as well as "such other divisions as are prescribed".
The Planning Appeals (Amendment) Act (9/1987) established the Planning Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on 1 August 1987 as successor to the Planning Appeals Board (VA 1408). The Planning Division of the Tribunal had jurisdiction in relation to appeals under various sections of the following acts:
Alpine Resorts; Cluster Titles; Drainage Areas; Drainage of Land; Environment Protection; Extractive industries; Health; Historic Buildings; Latrobe Regional Commission; Local Government; Mines; Port Phillip Coastal Planning and Management; Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation; Strata Titles; Town and Country Planning; Transport Act; Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Authority; Water.
Further research into the history of the administration of these previously separate appeal functions has yet to be undertaken.
From 1998 all appeals are to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal was established under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 as part of a package of reforms to improve the operation of the justice system. A number of tribunals were amalgamated standardising procedures and diminishing the enormous overlap that existed. Appeals are dealt with by the Planning List of the Administrative Division of the Tribunal.