A planning permit is a legal document that allows a certain use and / or development on land.

A planning permit normally contains a written document and a set of plans:

  • The written document usually includes conditions that must be met, eg: the number of patrons or hours of operation for a restaurant.
  • The plans are drawings of what has been approved under the permit, eg: the external building envelope, elevations and layout of a restaurant.

A permit will expire if requirements specified in the permit or the Act aren’t met. For example: a permit for development will usually expire unless construction has commenced within a time specified in the permit.

A planning permit is not a building permit. Building permits relate to the method of construction of a building or development. You may need to obtain both a building permit and a planning permit.

Planning schemes regulate the use and development of land. One way they do this is by requiring permits before certain types of land use and development can start.

Each council has its own planning scheme. Requirements for permits vary for each council; even minor changes may need a planning permit. It’s up to you to find out whether a permit is required before you develop or change the use of your land.

The best way to find out if you need a planning permit is to contact the planning department of your local council.  Make sure that what you want to do is not prohibited.

Council can offer advice about local or state government policy guidelines that must be considered for particular developments.

Make an application to the responsible authority: usually your local council.

In some circumstances the Minister for Planning is the responsible authority, for example, for certain applications within the City of Melbourne. You can find the responsible authority for your planning scheme in the schedule to Clause 61.01.

The responsible authority will decide the outcome of your application. If they agree with the proposed land use and / or development they may grant a permit or - if there are objections - issue a notice of decision. The responsible authority may also refuse the application.

Before making an application

  • find out about the planning scheme
  • talk to the council planner
  • talk to the neighbours
  • consider getting professional advice

Prepare and submit the application

  • application information
  • application form
  • fee

Council checks the application

  • more information?
  • referral?

Application is advertised if required for at least 14 days

  • usually by letter to neighbours and a sign on-site
  • people affected may object

Council assesses the application

  • considers any objections
  • holds mediation meeting if needed
  • considers any referral comments
  • assesses planning scheme provisions
  • negotiates with permit applicant
  • prepares report

Council decides the application

Council may issue either:

  • a permit with conditions
  • a notice of decision with conditions
  • a refusal

Review by VCAT if applied for

  • by the permit applicant against conditions of refusal
  • by an objector against notice of decision

More information