An application for a glamping development at Charlies Road, Elevated Plains, has returned to VCAT, not as an appeal against a recent Council decision but because Council failed to make a decision by the stipulated deadline.

At their 17 May meeting, Council voted unanimously to refuse the application. However, an application for review had been lodged at VCAT on 29 April against Council’s failure to determine the application within the prescribed time. Notification of the application for review did not reach Council until 18 May after the Council decision. Because the Council decision took place after the application for review was lodged, Council is unable to enact their decision. Instead, Council can form a view on the application prior to the VCAT hearing and advise VCAT of that view.

The matter will be considered again at the Council meeting on June 28. Councillors will consider a motion to advise VCAT that they would have made a determination to refuse the application on the grounds that it is an inappropriate development for agricultural lands, the bushfire protection plan is inadequate and vehicular access is inadequate for the potential increase in traffic.

This is the second time in recent months that an application has been sent to VCAT because of a failure by Council to respond in a timely manner. An earlier application for the Sky Barrels proposal in Camp Street, Daylesford, is currently before VCAT.

In accordance with the Planning and Environment Act 1987, Council has a statutory requirement to determine a planning application within 60 days, after which an applicant may appeal to VCAT against Council’s failure to determine the application within the specified time.  During that 60 day period the clock may stop if further information is sought from an applicant.

The proposed site is covered by a Bushfire Management Overlay and therefore required CFA consideration. The application was referred to the CFA in September 2021 to provide their comment on the application.  The CFA issued a Request for Information letter, following which the applicant met with the CFA prior to responding and provided a response and amended documentation to Council in March 2022.  Conditional Consent was subsequently provided by the CFA in April 2022. This delay did not count as part of the 60 day limit for a Council response.

Hepburn Shire CEO, Bradley Thomas, has acknowledged the difficulties facing the Shire planning department. “Due to resourcing constraints, staff departures and unprecedented high demand for qualified statutory planners across the planning industry state-wide, this has resulted in the inability of Council to process some applications within statutory time frames,” he said.  “Council has committed over $500,000 in additional resources to address this issue.  This is an issue impacting local government across the state and country.”

The Council agenda for June 28 includes an item closed to the public because “the agenda item is related to a current proceeding with the Victorian and Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) which requires confidentiality pursuant to the VCAT Act 1998.” The Charlies Road application and the Sky Barrels application are currently before VCAT.

Related stories:

Council Again Refuses Charlies Road Application

Council Decides Against Sky Barrels