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Abstract: Access to the planning system is constrained by various direct and indirect costs that have potential to distort participation across socio-economic divides. While previous research has investigated disparities in planning participation by different socio-economic groups, the contribution of various direct and indirect costs in this equation is not well understood. This research focuses on the costs involved in appealing land-use planning decisions. In jurisdictions where appeal tribunals exist, direct costs include application fees and orders to pay other parties’ costs; while indirect costs include costs of representation, holding costs associated with delays (for applicants), and the monetary value associated with attending and preparing for Tribunal hearings. Using the case study of appeals in Victoria, the research examines the nature of these costs and the relationship between appeal characteristics and changing cost regimes over time. In mid 2013 the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), increased fees by approximately 240% responding to increasing pressure to achieve cost recovery in justice systems. This increase provides an opportunity to examine the tension between direct regulatory costs and the broader principles of participation in and access to planning processes. It considers the way in which these factors were assessed in choosing to impose the costs. Using data from VCAT’s registry from July 2012 to June 2014, this paper examines the role of direct costs in influencing planning participation by both planning applicants and objectors across the Melbourne metropolitan area. We examine the role of these quantifiable direct costs within the larger, and harder to quantify, context of various indirect costs of planning participation.