The most crucial part of the Melbourne urban planning process is acquiring a planning permit before beginning certain land use or development – even minor changes may need a planning permit. The onus is usually on the developer to determine whether a permit is required before you start your project.
However, the planning permit application process is complex and time-consuming as it involves many different people and steps which can be daunting for a first-timer. The best way to navigate through this process is to keep yourself informed of the steps and requirements.
In this article, we will share the basics of the planning permit application process in Victoria.
Preparing the application
A major part of the planning permit application process is compiling relevant documents to be submitted along with your application to your local council. You must prepare these carefully to prevent any possible rejection due to errors or incomplete information. Your compiled documents must be comprehensive and can be understood by all interested parties.
Depending on the type of project, the documents required may differ. For instance, if you are looking to subdivide your property, then you must prepare extra documents as per the requirements of land subdivision regulations.
Generally, however, you are required to include relevant photographs, a set of architectural drawings and a town planning report. It is also worth noting that your council may require you to submit other consultant reports along with your application such as arborist reports, traffic reports, and sustainable design assessments.
Submitting the application
You are required to submit all the relevant documents with your application to your local council and pay the applicable fee.
It will then be allocated to a planning officer who will assess your application and request additional information, if required, within 28 days of your application submission date. The officer may also raise any initial concerns with your application during this period.
Request for further information and preliminary concerns
When a planning officer requests further information, it usually involves minor additions to architectural drawings or extra information that your local council may require to help assess your application better.
Once the officer requests further information, your local council will set a deadline for you to respond. It is important for you to provide the requested information properly within the deadline given to prevent your application from being lapsed. If this happens, you are required to re-lodge your application with your local council, resulting in additional fees and extended time for the issuance of your planning permit.
Additionally, it is also crucial that you address any concerns raised as part of the officer’s request for further information. If your response is inadequate, the local council may completely refuse your planning permit application.
Advertising the application
Your local council may request you to advertise your planning permit application for a minimum of 14 days if they believe your proposal may impact your neighbours or the surrounding area.
This usually involves sending letters to your neighbours, however, in certain circumstances you may need to erect a sign outlining your proposal on your site. The purpose of this is to allow the people affected by your proposal to have an opportunity to object.
Applications that typically require advertising are unit developments and most of the change of use projects. On the other hand, commercial or industrial building applications are generally subjected to an exemption from advertising. Your local council may also exempt your application from advertising if they believe it is minor and unlikely to affect your neighbours.
As for the final assessment of your planning permit application, your local council will consider any objections to your proposal as well as its compliance with the council’s regulations.
Once complete, the council’s planning officer will draft a delegation report, recommending whether your planning permit application should be approved or refused. The report outlines your proposal’s compliance or non-compliance with the council’s regulations and if it is appropriate to issue you a permit.
After reviewing this “recommendation report”, your local council will sign off and issue the decision to you. This includes deciding permit conditions, providing a Notice of Decision to grant a planning permit with or without conditions, or providing notice of refusal.
Notice of Decision issuance
A Notice of Decision (NOD) is not a planning permit, it is a legal notice that is issued when your local council supports your planning application. It outlines the council’s decision on your application with the applicable conditions.
Your local council may issue a NOD if your application receives objections. The NOD is sent to both you and the objectors of your application, and the council will allow a minimum of 21 days for any objectors to appeal their decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). If an appeal is filed, the council has to wait until the VCAT process is complete before issuing a decision.
Planning permit issuance
If no appeals are filed with VCAT, your local council will issue their decision after the review period has ended. This is the stage where the council will issue you a planning permit if you have successfully made it through all the steps above. You should also bear in mind that, depending on your town planning project, you may also require a building permit before starting your project.
Seek professional advice
As illustrated, the planning permit application is a complicated and time-consuming process and requires great attention to detail as well as in-depth knowledge of your local council planning scheme. Additionally, the application process may differ according to the type of project and thus add to the complexity.
Hence, it is best to refer to an experienced town planner in Melbourne who can assist you throughout the application process with detailed guidance tailored to your individual proposal. With expert town planning advice, you can sail through this challenging process quickly and easily!