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.
Thorough research and preparation is the best way to create a successful planning permit application. These steps will help you through the process.
Understand the process
The Planning and Environment Act 1987 establishes the planning permit application process.
For a detailed description of the application process including several diagrams download: Chapter 3 of Using Victoria's Planning System
Talk to your council planner
Before you start, discuss your proposal with your local council’s planning department. They can advise:
- whether or not your proposal needs a permit
- if your proposal is prohibited
- what additional information you need to supply with your application
- how your application will be processed.
In some cases the Minister for Planning is responsible for issuing planning permits. The schedule to Clause 61.01 of your local planning scheme will identify the responsible authority.
Talk to your neighbours
Talk to your neighbours so you are aware of their concerns.
Taking the time to talk to them at this early stage may save time later if changes can be made to the plans that address their concerns. Most people appreciate the opportunity to discuss plans before the formal notice process commences, although it will not always be possible to make changes that satisfy everybody.
Get professional advice
Consider getting professional advice.
Planning assessment and decision-making are often complicated processes and might include rules about respecting neighbourhood character, achieving good urban design outcomes, protecting reasonable amenity and enhancing heritage significance.
Council and the community are looking for proposals that will meet their expectations. Getting the right professional advice at the beginning will help develop your ideas so you meet both council's expectations and your objectives.
Prepare your application
Once you’ve determined that a planning permit is required there are a number of steps to follow in preparing your permit application:
Contact your council's planning department to find out what information needs to be provided with the application, and what policies and provisions council will use to assess it.
Councils often have their own specific requirements and checklists, so it’s important to check with the right council and confirm requirements before you submit an application. You’ll need to provide different information for different types of permit applications. That might include site plans, elevation drawings or a written report. The requirements also depend on the proposal: will it be assessed as a VicSmart application, does it involve residential development, subdivision or native vegetation?
Some councils offer pre-application meetings where they discuss the details of the application and information to be submitted. This can help to ensure your application is complete and reduce delays from further information having to be sought.
You might also want to consult a planning professional who can provide advice or prepare and lodge the application on your behalf.
Each council has their own application for planning permit form. The council's planning department will give you a copy and help you to complete it or you can find the form on the council's website.
Clearly describe what you want a permit for. Make sure you describe all the things that need a planning permit so you don’t need to apply for another one. Check this with the council planner when lodging your application.
Provide an accurate estimate of the cost of the development. This is used to determine the planning application fee.
If you’re the permit applicant but not the owner of the land, you must provide the owner's details on the form. You must tell the owner that the application has been made.
Provide a current Certificate of Title. You’ll also need to include a copy of any registered restrictive covenant or section 173 agreement that affects the land. If a registered restrictive covenant or section 173 agreement applies, talk to the council planner about what to do next.
Plans and other information
Attach any other information the council needs. This usually includes a set of plans - including floor plans and elevations – and anything else your council has asked for. If you don’t provide everything the council has asked for your application won't be processed; they need all of the relevant information before they can assess the application.
Lodge the application
Check you’ve collected and completed all the information that needs to be submitted with your application.
Lodge your completed application form, all required information and the fee at the council offices. Make sure you include your current mailing address and telephone number.
After you lodge the application, the planning officer will check it and advise you (in writing) if further information is required. If they do, you should provide the information promptly otherwise the application won't be processed further.