Planning Decisions Committee

The Planning Decisions Committee has the delegated authority to make a decision on all applications for planning permits that are referred to it. 

An application for a planning permit is heard and determined at the Planning Decisions Committee when 6 or more properties object to an application for planning permit are received, or if a councillor requests that an application is ‘called in’.

All councillors are members of the Planning Decisions Committee. Three councillors attend each meeting on a rotational basis and make up the Committee. 

A resolution made by the committee is made publicly (verbally) by the chairperson on the night of the meeting and the outcome is formally documented. 

The purpose of the Planning Decisions Committee

The purpose of a Planning Decisions Committee meeting is for the committee to hear from all parties to assist them making its decision (resolution) on the planning application. 

Council planning officers will outline the officer report and officer’s recommendation, the permit applicant will put forward the planning merits of the application, and the objectors will outline their concerns and how the proposed development will impact them. The committee hears from all parties in attendance before they make their resolution.

A written recommendation in the form of an officer report is put forward to the committee by council planning officers. The officer report is publicly available (on our website) usually on the Thursday prior to the meeting (which is held on a Wednesday evening). 

The report provides a written overview of the proposed development, an assessment of the proposed development against all relevant policy in the Yarra Planning Scheme, issues / recommendations put forward by referrals and the issues and concerns raised in the objections. The report also provides an office recommendation to the committee.

Who can attend a Planning Decisions Committee meeting?

Anyone can attend a Planning Decisions Committee meeting and there is no need to RSVP to confirm attendance. 

There may be several applications on the agenda to be heard at the meeting and a large number of people. For each item on the agenda, all parties relevant to the application (the permit applicant and objector parties) will be invited by the chairperson to come from their seats and sit with the councillors and council staff. Parties relevant to each agenda item (usually the permit applicant and objectors) will then be invited by the chairperson to make a verbal submission to the committee.

The committee attending the Planning Decisions Committee meeting includes a chairperson (appointed on the night) and the remaining Councillors. If any other Councillors attend the meeting, they may participate in the meeting but they cannot vote on any resolution.

Attending the Planning Decisions Committee as an objector

Attending the Planning Decisions Committee as an applicant 

How is the Planning Decisions Committee run?

The format of a Planning Decisions Committee meeting is more informal than a council meeting, however all questions and submissions must be made through the chair.

Generally in attendance at each meeting are:

  • 3 ward Councillors (usually one from each ward)
  • 2 Council planning officers
  • Council governance staff 
  • the permit applicant  (which may include a team of a planning consultant, architect, other relevant professional, and client)
  • objectors (who have lodged a formal objection to the permit application). 

The Planning Decisions Committee is chaired and facilitated by the chair. While the meeting is recorded, no transcripts are taken. The committee's resolution and determination at the meeting are verbally stated at the end of each agenda item and recorded by Council staff. These are the Planning Decisions Committee meeting minutes and are the official record of the resolutions.

The agenda for each Planning Decisions Committee meeting can vary in terms of length and type of application listed. This can influence the length of a meeting (determining factors are generally the type of application to be determined, the number of objector parties present and wishing to speak and the questions / clarification from the councillors from all parties present). 

Throughout the Planning Decisions Committee meeting it is expected that all parties in attendance are respectful of each other in the way that they speak, behave and conduct themselves. 

Determination of applications at the Planning Decisions Committee

At the end of each Planning Decisions Committee agenda item, the committee will make a resolution (make a determination) on the application in the form of one of the following: 

  • The committee agrees with the officer’s recommendation as it is set out in the officer report.
  • The committee agrees with the officer’s recommendation as it is set out in the officer report, with modifications. The chair will explain how the recommendation will be changed.
  • The committee will disagree with the officer’s recommendation as it set out in the officer report and ‘overturn’ the officer’s recommendation, determining that the application should be refused.

Following the resolution, the chairperson will ask the council planning officers to confirm the next steps in terms of process. The way forward will depend on the determination made. 

What happens next?

Once the Planning Decisions Committee meeting is complete, the meeting minutes (which are the official record of the meeting) are published on our website. These documents are usually made available within a week of the meeting.

The permit applicant and objectors to the application (even those who did not attend the meeting) are formally notified of Yarra Council’s decision in writing within 1-2 days of the meeting.

The permit application and objectors can appeal Council’s decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Instructions of how to appeal to VCAT are also printed on the back of the Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit or the Refusal to Grant a Permit. 

When are Planning Decisions Committee meetings held?

Planning Decisions Committee meetings are generally held twice each month (every second Wednesday evening) from 6.30pm onwards.