Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

  • Darebin City Council v Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (Grandview Hotel)
  • Melbourne City Council v Kingfish Victoria (Exchange Hotel)
  • Hunt Club Commercial Pty Ltd v Casey City Council
  • Mount Alexander Shire Council v Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (Castlemaine Sports and Entertainment Club)
  • Francis Hotel Pty Ltd v Melbourne City Council (Francis Hotel)
  • Melkat Pty Ltd v Campaspe Shire Council (Caledonian Hotel)
  • Rennie v Darebin City Council (Stolberg Hotel)

Darebin City Council v Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation

8 August 2013

Facts

  • Grandview Hotel Victoria Pty Ltd was granted a license for 50 electronic gaming machines (EGMs) by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
  • The Darebin City Council applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of the commission's decision to approve the Grandview Hotel as suitable for gaming with permission for 50.

EGMs

  • The council argued the commission was wrong in finding there would be no economic and social detriment to the well-being of the community and rather approval of the application would result in a community benefit.

Decision

  • The application for review was dismissed and the decision of the commission was affirmed.
  • Applying the Supreme Court's decision in Romsey Hotel, the tribunal gave weight to the findings of the commission, finding:
    • The approval of the premises as suitable for gaming will not have a net economic or social impact that is detrimental to the community.

Relevant documents

Melbourne City Council v Kingfish Victoria

25 June 2013

Significance

  • This is the first combined gaming and planning review proceeding where the tribunal has upheld the gaming approval but refused the planning approval.

Facts

  • Kingfish Victoria Pty Ltd applied for a license for and planning permit for 50 electronic gaming machines (EGMs) for the Exchange Hotel.
  • Melbourne City Council refused the planning permit but the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation approved the gaming license
  • Kingfish Victoria applied to the tribunal for review of the council's refusal of their planning permit and the council applied to the tribunal for review of the commission's approval of the gaming license

Decision

  • The tribunal upheld both the council and commission's decisions – granting approval for the gaming license and refusal of the planning permit
  • In reaching its decision, the tribunal considered the venue's close proximity to a social housing facility (that housed elderly and disadvantaged people) and determined:
    • The gaming approval process involved the balancing of broader considerations about the potential social and economic impacts on the community and found the 'no net detriment to the wellbeing of this community' test was met.
    • The planning approval assessment required a location-specific assessment and found the proposal was not compatible with the social housing facility and was an unacceptable planning outcome in this particular location. 

Relevant documents

Hunt Club Commercial Pty Ltd v Casey City Council

20 May 2013

Facts

  • Casey City Council sought to amend its Cranbourne East Development Plan to restrict the sale of packaged liquor within an activity centre, based on social considerations including the accessibility of alcohol in the Cranbourne East community.
  • Hunt Club Commercial Pty Ltd owns the activity centre land, and opposed the proposed changes.
  • The case concerned a question of law: whether a determination on the use of land to sell and consume liquor is a relevant consideration?

Decision

  • The tribunal found that Casey City Council cannot amend its Cranbourne East Development Plan to restrict the sale of packaged liquor within an activity centre, based on social considerations.
  • The tribunal determined, the scope of relevant considerations under the Casey Planning Scheme is not restricted solely to impacts which manifest themselves into an amenity impact on the surrounding area, finding that:
    • A broad concern about the social harm caused by alcohol, the accessibility of alcohol in the community generally, or the potential for the abuse or misuse of alcohol, will rarely (if ever) be a relevant planning consideration in the exercise of discretion for a particular licensed premises.

Relevant documents

Mount Alexander Shire Council v Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation

14 February 2013

Facts

  • The Maryborough Highland Society lodged a license application for 65 pokies with the former Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR) in October 2011.
  • It also lodged a planning application with Mount Alexander Shire Council in September 2011.
  • A successful application would have seen an increase of triple the number of gaming machines in the area. It would have also been the only gaming venue on crown land with no other sporting facilities.
  • The commission heard the license application in January 2012, and in February 2012 it approved the old railway shed as suitable for a gaming venue with 65 machines.
  • The shire council lodged an appeal for review with the tribunal, which was heard in August 2012.

Decision

  • The tribunal overturned the decision of the commission and refused the application.
  • The tribunal found:
    • The proposal would result in only moderately positive economic benefits, and moderate to strong detriments to the shire.
    • The community contribution offered by the proposed venue operator was unclear.
    • Material elements of the proposal had changed since commission approval, including a change in the proposed venue operator, from the Maryborough Highland Society to the newly formed Castlemaine Sports and Community Club.
    • The proposal posed a real risk of an increase in the prevalence of problem gambling in the area and would likely negatively impact the character of the Castlemaine township.

Relevant documents

Francis Hotel Pty Ltd v Melbourne City Council

12 December 2012

Facts

  • The Francis Hotel Pty Ltd applied for a license and planning permit for 32 electronic gaming machines (EGMs) for the Francis Hotel located on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne CBD.
  • The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation approved the license application but the Melbourne City Council refused the planning permit.
  • The Francis Hotel applied for review by the tribunal of the council's refusal and the council applied to the tribunal for review of the commission's approval.

Decision

  • The tribunal set aside the commission's decision to approve the Francis Hotel as a gaming venue and affirmed the council's decision to refuse a planning permit.
  • The tribunal found that in addition to being contrary to local planning policy, approval of the gaming license would add risk to problem gamblers and have a negative impact on social well being.

Relevant Documents

Melkat Pty Ltd v Campaspe Shire Council

23 May 2012

Facts

  • As the operator of the Caledonian Hotel in Echuca, Melkat Pty Ltd wanted to install electronic gaming machines (EGMs) and was required to apply for a permit.
  • However, the council defined the land where the hotel was located as a strip shopping centre and EGMs were prohibited in these locations.
  • Melkat then applied for a declaration from the tribunal under section 149A of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 that the land was not a strip shopping centre as defined in the Planning Scheme. 

Decision

  • The application for a declaration was refused.
  • The tribunal found the land met all the requirements of a strip shopping centre as it was:
    • Zoned for business use; and
    • A large portion of the buildings were shops (approximately 35 shops of 57 buildings as vacant shop fronts could still be considered).

Relevant Document

Rennie v Darebin City Council

22 October 2010

Significance

  • This case represents a successful challenge to a pokies installation made by a local resident, by objecting to the grant of a planning permit by the council. In its finding, the tribunal stated that an assessment of the social and economic impacts of pokies was required under planning legislation as well as during the licence application hearing by the commission.

Facts

  • Darebin City Council granted a permit to Stolberg Hotel for the installation and use of 30 pokie machines.
  • Susan Rennie (a local resident) sought a review of Darebin City Council's decision to grant a permit on the basis that the social and economic impacts of the proposed installation and use of pokie machines was not adequately considered by the council.
  • Darebin City Council submitted that an extensive analysis of the social and economic impacts was required for a gaming license under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 rather than a planning permit under the Environment and Planning Act 1987.
  • The tribunal found that the Environment and Planning Act 1987 and Victorian planning schemes require consideration of the significant social and economic impacts of the proposal under section 60(1A)(a) and the social and economic impacts of the location of gaming machines under clause 52.28 of the Darebin City Council planning scheme.

Decision

  • The decision of Darebin City Council to grant a permit was set aside.
  • The council did not adequately assess the social and economic impacts of this proposal on the community.
  • The council did not seek the same level of information that was provided by Ms Rennie. In fact, the tribunal viewed the level of information provided by Ms Rennie as 'a good example of the level of inquiry and consideration that may be necessary in order to reach an informed view about the social and economic impacts associated with EGMs in a particular location.'
  • The social and economic impacts of the location of the proposed pokie machines was inappropriate.
    • The tribunal did not agree with the town planner that an additional gaming venue would have little effect on the community as there is already significant access to gaming in the area.
  • The tribunal followed the reasoning in Branbeau that problem gambling is more likely to emerge if gaming machines are located in 'poorer communities.'
  • The tribunal found the Stolberg Hotel was located in a 'poorer community' and therefore its location for 30 pokie machines was inappropriate.

Relevant document

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