What is a planning panel?

A planning panel allows the public to participate in the planning and environmental decision making process. They independently assess planning proposals by considering submissions, conducting hearings and preparing reports.

Planning panels are only advisors and make recommendations. The final decision is left to the appropriate statutory bodies, or the Minister.

Planning panels are established either under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 or the Environment Effects Act 1978.

What does a panel do?

The role of a panel is to:

  • provide an independent forum for submitters to be heard in an informal, non-judicial manner
  • give expert advice to the planning authority (usually the local council) or the Minister about a planning proposal
  • inquire into all aspects of the proposal and submissions.

What is the role of Planning Panels Victoria?

Planning panels are administered by Planning Panels Victoria, located in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Panel members

Planning Panels Victoria consists of a Chief and six Senior Panel members. We also have approximately sixty-five sessional panel members. Individual panels are drawn from a pool of full-time and sessional panel members.

Sessional panel members provide expertise on planning, architecture, urban design, engineering, environment and social planning. Members are appointed to a panel as required, depending on the nature and complexity of the proposal being considered. Membership of the list of sessional panel members is reviewed regularly.

Types of planning panels and committees

Planning panels are commonly appointed to hear submissions made about amendments to planning schemes and to recommend and advise as to whether the amendment should proceed.

A panel may be appointed to consider other matters such as planning permits referred or called in by the Minister for Planning or applied for in conjunction with a planning scheme amendment.

Advisory committees may also be appointed by the Minister to consider specific proposals or to review planning policies in accordance with specific terms of reference. 

Panel hearings

Panel hearings are conducted in a relatively informal manner. We encourage people to represent themselves when they can. Hearings are open to the public.

View the current schedule hearings ((DOC, 92.5 KB))

Directions hearings and panel hearing dates for a planning scheme amendment are usually set before the exhibition period commences.

Panel and advisory committee reports

Panel reports for planning scheme amendments are made available 28 days after the submission of the report and can be viewed on Amendments Online under the relevant planning scheme.

Advisory Committee and other types of reports are released at the Minister's discretion. This usually happens once the final decision has been made about the matter under consideration.

Panel and Advisory Committee reports (from 1998 onwards) can be viewed on the Australasian Legal Information Institute site.  All reports (including those prior to 1998) can be obtained from Planning Panels Victoria.

VCAT and Planning Panels Victoria

While Planning Panels Victoria generally deals with planning scheme amendments, the Planning Division of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) handles decisions that have been made (something missing?) The appeals dealt with about planning permit applications, or in some circumstances, the failure of the planning authority to make any decision on an application.

More information about the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

More Information

More information about Panels and the Panel process can be found in the FAQ's.

Planning Panels Victoria is located at:

1 Spring Street,
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Telephone: (03) 8392 5116
Fax: (03) 8392 5110
Email: planning.panels@delwp.vic.gov.au