After a planning application has been lodged, the responsible authority (usually the council but in some cases the Minister for Planning) will assess the application. This may involve notifying other people of the application.

If your application qualifies for the shorter VicSmart process, there will be limited or no involvement of external parties in an application.

Stages in the notification and review of planning permit applications

Notice of a planning application (advertising) occurs unless the council is satisfied that granting a permit won’t cause material detriment to any person, or the planning scheme states that notice isn’t required.

Council determines what notice should be given. They will let the applicant know which notice method is required, and explain what you need to do.

Notice of an application might be given via:

  • letters mailed to the owners and occupiers of adjoining / nearby properties (some councils require letters to be sent to owners and occupiers by registered post and others provide a mail-out service for permit applicants)
  • sign(s) erected on the land subject to the application
  • notice(s) in local newspapers
  • notice to adjoining municipalities and / or government authorities / organisations or utilities.

The notice will include:

  • the address of the land subject to the application
  • the permit applicant's name
  • council's reference number for the application
  • what the application is for
  • where the application and plans can be inspected
  • the address for lodging objections (submissions)
  • the date objections (submissions) need to be lodged before (at least 14 days after the date the last notice was given).

Through this process, neighbours are informed about a proposal and invited to inspect the plans. If you didn’t receive a formal notice about a proposal you can still make a submission, but council's planning department must receive it before council makes a decision about the application.

After a planning application has been lodged it is considered a public document. Anyone can inspect it at the offices of the council or responsible authority, and they can request copies of plans from the council.

If someone believes they’re affected by the proposal they can make a written submission to the council. Submissions, or objections, to a planning application are considered public documents that can be inspected by anyone.

Applicants

We encourage you to discuss your plans with neighbours before you lodge your application with council. This gives you an opportunity to consider and address any concerns they may have with the plans.

Neighbours

If you’re approached by a neighbour about a permit application, ask for a copy of the plans so you can think carefully about what is proposed and how you might be affected. By talking to and negotiating with the permit applicant and the council planner, you may be able to avoid making a submission.

If you have concerns, suggest ways that the plans could be changed to address them. For example, it may be possible to retain a significant tree for shade and screening if the setback from the boundary is increased. The permit applicant might not agree to make these changes, but they will be aware of your concerns.

If you’re affected by a planning application, you can influence what is proposed and what gets approved: anyone can inspect the plans and make a submission about an application if they have concerns about it. An objector also has the right to have a planning decision reviewed. However, notice and submissions do not occur for all applications; some are exempt from notice and decision requirements.

If you have a planning-related issue with the application you can lodge an objection with council during the 14-day notice period; you can make a submission up to the time council makes its decision on the application. Council can’t make a decision on the application until after the date specified in the notice.

If you support the proposal, you don’t need to do anything unless you’d like to make a submission in support.

If you negotiated changes to the plans with the permit applicant before the application was lodged, you should inspect the plans submitted with the application to make sure they include these changes.

A submission is a written statement explaining your views about the application and how you may be affected if a permit is granted. If you feel that you are affected by a planning proposal, you can make a submission to the responsible authority (usually the council).

The steps below will help make your submission as effective as possible.

Before you begin

Your submission must:

  • be in writing (typed or clearly written)
  • be addressed to the council and, if objecting to the proposal, be clearly marked as an objection
  • clearly state the reasons for objecting and how you would be affected
  • include the permit application reference number and the address of the land
  • include your name and current contact details. This allows council to keep you advised of any meetings between the applicant and other submitters, or of any changes to the plans or the proposal that the permit applicant makes
  • include your signature and the date of your submission.

Also consider:

  • if a group of people are making a combined objection, such as a petition, you should nominate one contact person
  • some types of objections aren’t allowed, for example an objection relating solely to commercial competition
  • the objection should be lodged by the date shown on the Notice of application, usually within a 14-day notice period.

Step 1: Inspect the plans

Carefully review the plans and the reports provided with the application. See if your property or building is shown on any of them and make a note of your concerns and questions.

Step 2: Discuss the proposal

Discuss the proposal with the council planner and the permit applicant so you understand what's proposed and how you might be affected. Ask them to show what changes or impact the proposal will have on your property.

Discuss the permit conditions with the council planner; appropriate conditions might address or reduce some of your concerns about the proposal. The conditions are very important, particularly if the council planner tells you they intend to recommend that the application be approved.

Step 3: Visit the site

Get a copy of the plans and visit the site so you can assess any impacts of the proposal.

Step 4: Prepare your submission

In your submission, describe how you will be affected if a permit is granted. Suggest how these impacts could be reduced or eliminated by possible changes to the plans or the inclusion of specific permit conditions. Most permit applicants will try to address reasonable concerns.

Your submission will carry more weight if it:

  • is rational
  • is factual
  • specifically addresses the proposal
  • describes how you will be affected.

Most councils have a standard submission form that you can fill out, but you don’t have to use it. Keep a copy of your submission for future reference.

If you lodge a submission you will have the right to apply for a review to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) if council decides to grant a permit.

A submission is a public document and copies may be made available to other people or organisations including the permit applicant, councillors and VCAT.

Step 5: Follow up

After the submission period has closed, find out what the council planner’s recommendation is (if possible) and how the decision will be made. Make sure you know what's going on at this final stage of the application process.

If the application will be decided by council, you might want to make a short presentation at the council meeting to explain your submission:

  • the council planner can tell you whether this is possible and what the requirements are
  • focus on the impact of the proposal
  • explain why the application should be refused or modified.

A register of applications is available for inspection at the council office.

The council must make a copy of every submission available for inspection. They can’t make a decision on an application until at least 14 days after the giving of the last notice.

After the decision is made you can object by applying for a VCAT review.

The person applying for the permit also has the opportunity to object. For example, they can object to conditions the council has placed on the permit, and any failure to make a decision within a specified period of time.

If you’re satisfied with the outcome of negotiations with the permit applicant, or you don’t want to pursue your submission, you can withdraw it by writing to council.

If you withdraw your submission you’ll lose your right to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review. Don’t withdraw your submission unless you’re completely satisfied that your concerns have been addressed and the changes have been made to the application or are confirmed in writing.

You can also withdraw a submission conditionally, for example, provided certain changes are made. This will protect your right to apply for a review if the changes are not made.

Some planning permit applications need to be referred to other authorities or organisations for advice and comment. For example, if you’re proposing to change the access to a road that is managed by VicRoads, your application will be referred to VicRoads.

The council will refer the application to other persons or bodies specified as referral authorities in the planning scheme. Referral authorities have 28 days to respond to the council. Some may object to the granting of a permit or specify conditions to be included on a permit.

More information about referrals