This article was authored on 25th March, and may be redundant by the time you read it, but…
COVID-19 is changing our lives. Clause 1 Planning sincerely hopes you and your loved ones can successfully navigate the coming months and we look forward to seeing you all on the other side.
Below is a brief summary of what we know are some of the relevant impacts on Council and VCAT for planning permit applicants.
Councils are scrambling to separate staff and set up home/remote access for their employees. Some are looking to provide larger offices to ensure staff remain a suitable distance apart. All of the Council’s we have spoken to have confirmed their intent to continue accepting and assessing applications over the coming months. Although, it would be easy to conclude that these issues could cause delays, Clause 1 is anticipating a significant drop in new applications. We expect that Council’s may actually became a little more efficient in processing applications due to this decline in workload.
VCAT has announced that all hearings scheduled up to 15th May 2020 have been postponed to dates yet to be determined. Parties involved in postponed proceedings are receiving Orders from the Tribunal setting their matters down for administrative-mentions in 4-5weeks time. By the date of the administrative-mention, all parties are required to confirm whether the matter is suitable to be determined on the papers (without a hearing based on written submissions) or should be scheduled for a video-conference hearing.
It is currently unclear what is likely to happen with hearings scheduled beyond 15th May. Clause 1 expects these matters are likely to be run as scheduled via video-conferencing or resolved on the papers, if preferred by the parties.
Our advice for parties to VCAT proceedings is ‘sit-tight’. The Tribunal appear to be managing their case-load as well as can be expected. They will be in touch 2-4 weeks prior to your scheduled hearing time to confirm arrangements. It appears any delays will be in the realm of 2-3months.
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