In Giardina v South Gippsland SC  VCAT 924 (18 May 2011) the Tribunal has restated the principle that it will not simply grant a planning permit even when parties seek one by consent. The Tribunal declined to grant a planning permit “on the papers” and stated as follows
The Tribunal has consistently held the view that it cannot be a mere “rubber stamp” to consent orders requested by parties in a proceeding. Whilst the Tribunal is constituted to hear and determine appeals between parties, its determinations have a wide effect upon the public. It is required to make its determinations based upon considerations and public interest and public policy. This distinguishes the Tribunal from the court exercising civil jurisdiction. Unlike a court, the Tribunal has, and must exercise, an independent responsibility in judgement as to the appropriateness to any determination it makes. The Tribunal always has an obligation to be satisfied that any permit it grants, even by way of consent, is lawful and produces acceptable outcomes within the meaning of clause 65 of the planning scheme.
The matter has been listed for a hearing.