Guide 2-2 Applying for a planning permit to install an EGM, or change the number of EGMs, in a local area

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Part 2: Who decides whether or not to approve the planning permit application for EGM’s in your area?

 

Local Government is the responsible authority for deciding whether to approve, or not approve, a planning permit application for electronic gaming machines. Like other land use planning processes, if your local government rejects the application and decides NOT to issue the planning permit, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).  The EGM application process flow chart provides additional information.

 

Local Government decisions will be based on:

 

  • Whether the site proposed for an EGM venue is in a suitable land use zone
  • Whether the land has any overlays restricting its development and use for an EGM venue
  • Any potential conflicts between the proposed site and other local government policies and strategies for example: Gaming Policy or Framework; Local Area Structure Plans, Growth Strategies, Development Plans, Neighbourhood Character Studies
  • Council will also consider any relevant objections to the proposal, including surveys of community attitudes to the application. View Guide 3 for more information.

 

In some past cases more than one area of Council has responded to a planning permit application, i.e. Social Planning officers may be responding at the same time as Statutory Planning officers. However, it is important to ensure Council’s approach is coordinated and that all departments work through one central legal team. Note that the support of a social researcher and their data base is essential in making an informed response to a planning permit application for EGMs. A number of Councils have developed a research and data base, or community profile that can be used to inform Councils response. The upcoming database produced by the Inner Northern Working Group on Gambling is an excellent starting place.

 

The VCAT Appeals Process

 

It is possible to make an appeal to VCAT to review a Local Council’s decision about EGMs when:

  • Council has refused the planning permit application and the applicant wishes to appeal that decision
  • Council has approved the application and an objector (either individual or group) objects to the Council decision.
  • The VGCR has approved a licence for the EGMs and Council disagrees with this decision.
  • The VCAT appeal hearing may affirm, vary or set aside the Council decision.
  • Once an appeal is lodged with VCAT it will in most cases proceed to a hearing, however it usually takes two to three months before a hearing will be scheduled. The hearing process is open to the public. It generally allows for the following order of speakers to be heard: firstly the responsible authority (Council), then any objectors and finally the permit applicant.
  • Any party may call expert and/or other witnesses to present evidence supporting their case. A written report must be provided by the witness and circulated to all parties and to VCAT ten business days before the hearing. Witnesses may be cross examined by the legal team representing the applicant and by the sitting VCAT member/s.  View more information about presenting at a hearing.
  • A public submission by members of the public or other organisations may also be presented to VCAT during the hearing. Submissions can be made orally or in writing and cannot be cross examined by other parties, however clarifications may be sought on content.
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