Planning Process

How To Lodge Objections to Plans

The Planning Process in the Municipality of Hobsons Bay in Victoria

Legally determined zones and overlays are set out in the Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme which includes any registered Planning Scheme Amendment (PAS) which effects the specific land.

The Former Port Phillip Woollen Mill Site is subject to the Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme and PAS C86 (click to see the scheme approved by the Minister Matthew Guy earlier this year)

This document contains a Design and Development Overlay (DDO) which should be applied to any application for a Planning Permit.

Hobsons Bay Council is DEFINED by the minister as the RESPONSIBLE AUTHORITY where the developer Nelson Place Village (represented by Urbis) must make application for a Planning Permit before any demolition or building on site can be approved at the Former Port Phillip Woollen Mill Site.

If the developer has their application refused by Council then they have the right to take their application, or a variation of that application, to VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal)

On referral VCAT is legally authorised to become the Responsible Authority and approve or reject plans. New plans may be submitted to VCAT by the developer which are different from those initially submitted to Council for advertisng and decision, and which the community has seen in the Planning Application to Council.

If VCAT approves plans then objectors can appeal to the Supreme Court ONLY on a point of law.


When the council receives an application for a Planning Permit, council officers will review the documentation supplied and check that it meets the requirements to become a VALID application. In the case of application in the Former Port Phillip Woollen Mill Site mapped in C86, an application is required to have all the reports specified in the Design and Development Overlay DDO section of C86.  

Once the application has been accepted by council, the applicant (in this case Urbis representing Nelson Place Village) is required to advertise in the method determined by council.  This will include signs displayed on the site and affected persons/organisations must be informed of the application by the council specified method.  In a large application a notice in the local newspaper may also be required as well as letters to those that council officers judge to be impacted by the development.

Applications received by Council are given an Application Number at the start and this is the best way to look up the status of applications.  Save Williamstown will let you know the Application Number for any current application by NPV/Urbis on Facebook and in News on the Save Williamstown website.   You can also ask to be on our community email address by emailing us at:

We will include information about any application to which you can object.  Emails are generally sent no more than once per week so as not to “annoy” recipients so being a member of the Facebook Group Save Williamstown will give you more instant information.

To join Facebook go to this website

You do not need to receive a letter from the developer to object, anyone in the community has the right to object to the granting of a planning permit but you should set out how the application affects you.  

Using Council’s Greenlight website

objections and comments about any “Applications on Advertising” planning application can be registered on line. You will be asked for your email address and council will confirm your objection has been registered and will send you an email with your objection set out in full as a letter from you to council.  Or you as an objector can write to council with your objections but you need to make a copy of your objection if you use the postal system. The address to write to is:

  1. Hobsons Bay Council

  2. PO Box 21

  3. Altona 3018

  4. Fax: 03 9932 1039

            Quote the Application No

If the planning application number is not yet showing on “Applications on Advertising” you should wait. Whatever  documentation has been received by Council will be available under the relevant Application Number or street address at  “Search all current and complete applications

When you hear about an application for a Planning Permit, go to Council’s Greenlight and review the documents submitted on the Greenlight Website - they are usually pdf files which open in Acrobat Reader.  If the application is advertised then object as soon as possible - often only 14 days is allowed before council can decide.  TIMES are IMPORTANT.... The developer can take their application out of the hands of council and send it to VCAT if council has not decided within 60 days.  

Save Williamstown may have suggested some “Reasons for Objection” on Facebook entries or in the community emails but your objection should always reflect your own opinion about why council should refuse the application.

Once all objections are received, council planning officers will review the application according to planning law in the municipality and any special zone or planning scheme amendment requirements and all the objections received.  They may decide on the basis of all the information to recommend that the planning permit be approved.  If this is the officer's recommendation and there are more than 7 objectors a Special Planning Committee (SPC), comprising 3 independent councillors, will sit.  At which time the planning officer will explain why an approval is recommended and each objector will be invited to speak about their reasons for objecting. It is expected that the applicant will also attend in support of their application.  

  1. The independence of the councillors is important because after the Winky Pop v. Hobsons Bay Council case in the Supreme Court, councillors MUST NOT have expressed opinion about a planning application if they are to vote on it.  

If the SPC approves the application then the applicant is informed and objectors are informed.  Objectors are then able to  take the approval to VCAT for review and must pay fees for the VCAT hearing.  If council approves but sets conditions then the applicant and the objectors may take the application to VCAT each responsible for paying VCAT fees.  If the SPC refuses the application then all parties are informed and the applicant can request review at VCAT. In that case council and objectors who are supporting council against the developer do not pay fees.

If council officers determine that the application is to be refused, then the applicant and objectors are informed by letter. The applicant is informed of their rights to take their application to VCAT and the objectors are informed that they may respond to the applicant seeking review at VCAT as “Original Objectors”.

VCAT is a legal tribunal which in its planning division is able to deal with legal planning matters.  Objectors can appear in person or as a group and although it is not mandatory they can have legal, planning or other expert witnesses or representatives to help their case.  Large scale developers are often represented by planning law experts, barristers and QCs which can make it more difficult for objectors.  However the presiding member is supposed to assist to those without legal representation.  See VCAT Act


IMPORTANTLY, when the applicant such as NPV/Urbis ask for a VCAT review, they are able to produce completely different plans for the site if they so wish.  The VCAT case is a “de nova” case or a new case and is not necessarily the same as the planning application which was considered by council. Note, the VCAT Application Number  is always different from the Council Application Number.  There can be the situation where new plans are distributed to listed objectors only days before the hearing.  Therefore, it is VERY important that all “Original Objectors” to the council application become listed as objectors in the VCAT hearing.  Also it may be that Save Williamstown hears that a larger, more dense residential application is going to be proposed at VCAT and we may encourage community members, who are to be impacted, to request that they be added to the Objectors list at VCAT.  This will be discussed at the Directions Hearing with new objectors given the chance to explain why they wish to be added to the list and the developer attempting to have them restricted from objecting because they were not an Original Objector at council.  Reasons to be added to the list, which will usually be accepted, are for example: you were unable to object to council because you were overseas and did not know of the application which affects you; you are new to the area and live next to the proposed development etc.

After determining the scope of the VCAT hearing, the time allocation for the hearing, the requirements for distribution of expert reports and documents prior to the hearing and any additional objectors at the Directions Hearing, the case will enter one of two queues - the Short Cases List or normal cases list.  Normal cases may take 3 or 4 months before they are listed.

A member will preside over the hearing. The developer as applicant, the council and objectors will be heard with expert witnesses providing respective support for the parties.  At the end of the hearing, the member will retire, often visit the site, review all material and then provide a written determination which will allow the demolition or the building to commence with whatever conditions are determined or may reject the application. In which case, the applicant will need to start the process again through the council, with the same rights to take council’s decision to VCAT for review.  

If the court or tribunal’s time is wasted then there is the possibility to have the applicant determined to be a vexatious litigant and required to present in a more appropriate way.

At the end of the VCAT hearing and within 28 days of the written determinations, any matter of law can be referred to the Supreme Court for final judgement in the Courts of Victoria.  There are higher authorities which can be referred to within the legal framework of those authorities.


Port Phillip Woollen Mill Site

Suggested “Reasons for Objection”

  1. Validity of Ministers’ Planning Scheme Amendments C75 & C86 decisions relating to errors in public service advice

  2. Heritage issues and specific heritage buildings

  3. Safety issues - Port of Melbourne lease to Mobil Major Hazard Facility and fuel importation

  4. Noise issues of BAE systems & Mobil

  5. Traffic issues for existing residential streets & schools

  6. Protection of existing houses from noise and explosion if the site is left vacant for an extended period

  7. Developer not engaging with Hobsons Bay Council in agreed Master Plan approach for the whole site

  8. Single Application and specified reports requirement of C86 should precludes multiple lot applications

  9. Excessive number of dwellings when the advisory committee and council previously considered a total of about 400 dwellings

  10. Percentage increase in the population of Williamstown and stress on existing infrastructure

  11. Emergency Evacuation Plan for the Pt Gellibrand Peninisula requirements not met

  12. Heights and densities greater than in the advisory heights in C86

  13. Overshadowing and overlooking

  14. Density of dwellings compared with Worksafe and UK HSE specifications for outer advisory zones to 400m

  15. Cultural Heritage Plan and aboriginal interest in the site and early european settlement heritage

  16. Wasting council, community and VCAT time and effort with multiple applications designed to confuse issues and mask final outcomes

  17. Short Case List should always be refused for this complex site              etc......

Above, the appendix in the developer’s Construction Management Plan submitted with Application Numbers PA1225060, PA1225059 and PA1225057 indicates that Option 1 is for a total of 816 dwellings on the site

(Click here)

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Whatever Hobsons Bay Council decides the Developer or Community can take that decision for review to VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal - Planning and Environment Division)

  1. 1.Council approves plans - Objectors want refusal of plans
    “Original Objectors” from the community have 21 days to lodge an application for review under Section 82 or 82B VCAT Act. They can object individually - each pays $785.60 and submits a Statement of Reasons to VCAT. Objectors can form a group with a leader who will responsible for presenting the group’s case (or be legally or personally represented) in which case only one fee has to be paid for the group as long as all the listed objectors were original objectors at council.  The case will probably listed by VCAT from 2 to 6 months after the application is stamped.  Any expert witness statements must be presented 10 working days before the case is heard.  If VCAT needs to establish the length of the case and a timetable for submissions and witnesses or group cases together then a Practice Day Hearing at VCAT will be notified to objectors.

    VCAT has a list of interested parties and all interested parties must be informed of all matters including sending copies of expert reports to all parties within the specified timeframes.

  2. 2.Council approves plans - Developer objects to conditions.
    The developer has 60 days to lodge an application to VCAT to review conditions. The developer must inform all original objectors, so that they can submit a Statement of Reasons form to VCAT and become a party to the hearing.  An estimate of time for presentation and witnesses must entered if appearing at the hearing. The objectors appear at VCAT in support of Councils decision and ALL can take part in the proceedings which may involve council negotiating for a new set of conditions.  The Developer must supply copies of all expert reports to all parties 10 working days before the hearing and if the interested parties have expert reports they must be similarly submitted.

  3. 3.Council rejects plans - Developer seeks review at VCAT
    The developer has 60 days to lodge an application to VCAT to review the plans. The developer must inform all original objectors, so that they can submit a Statement of Reasons form to VCAT and become a party to the hearing.  An estimate of time for presentation and witnesses must entered if appearing at the hearing. The objectors appear at VCAT in support of Councils decision and ALL can take part in the proceedings which may involve council negotiating for a new set of conditions.  The Developer must supply copies of all expert reports to all parties 10 working days before the hearing and if the interested parties have expert reports they must be similarly submitted.