Seven stages of planning permit process

There are seven key stages in the planning permit process. We've created a factsheet about the planning permit process to help you understand the process.

Stage 1 – Research before lodging an application

It is important to find out exactly what planning controls apply to your property and discuss them with our Council planner.

Each property has a set of planning controls that specify when a planning permit is needed. To find out what controls apply to your property you can:

Check with our Council planner and your neighbours

Complete a request for a pre-application meeting (general) (pdf, 279kb) / pre-application meeting (heritage overlay) (pdf, 295KB).

This way you can ensure that what you are proposing seems reasonable and that you are applying for the correct permit/s.

It is also a good idea to have a chat to your neighbours about your plans to gauge how they feel about them. This often saves a lot of time later down the track if small changes can be made to address their concerns early on.

Stage 2 – Prepare and submit the application

You may seek professional advice to prepare your planning permit application, or do it yourself using our planning fact sheets as a guide.

The information you need to include will vary depending on what permit is required. However, generally they include:

  • an application for a planning permit form
  • a lodgement fee via credit card (online), cheque, or money order in person or via post.
  • a description of what the permit is for
  • estimated costs of the works. From 1 July 2015, a valid Metropolitan Planning Levy Certificate will be required where the estimated cost of works for the proposed development exceed $1,029,000.  
  • a current Certificate of Title
  • copies of plans and any other additional information

Refer our planning fact sheets for more specific information.

Lodging your application

You can lodge your planning permit application:

When submitting your application, make sure to take note of the application reference number and use it in all future correspondence about the matter.

You will receive an acknowledgment letter from us after lodging your application.

Stage 3 – Council checks the application

Our planning officers will check the application to make sure everything has been filled in correctly and all the required information has been included.

If more information is needed we will contact you to complete the application.

The application may also be referred to other internal departments, such as engineering or heritage advisers, or external agencies such as Melbourne Water or VicRoads.

If your application needs to be referred, please allow for extra time.

Stage 4 – Public notification is given (if required)

The Victorian planning system is set up to ensure that you have a chance to comment on a planning permit that may affect you, before a decision is made.

Our Council planner will decide if and how public notification needs to be given.

This could take the form of:

  • direct mail notification
  • on-site signage
  • advertisements in the local newspaper

Your application will also be added to our online register.

If we are satisfied that the application will not negatively impact anyone, there is no need to give public notification. If public notification is required, it must be carried out for a period of at least 14 consecutive days.

During this period, and up to the time when a decision is made, a person can make a submission either in support or objection to the proposed permit.

Anyone can lodge an objection to a planning permit application, and we must consider all objections when assessing the application.

Lodging an objection

For more information on how to lodge an objection (pdf, 335kb), check our responding to a planning permit application guide (pdf, 295kb).

Stage 5 – Council assesses the application and prepares a report

If public notification is required, after the advertising period, if there are less than ten objections from the community a planning officer will assess the application and make a decision.

If we receive ten or more objections a consultation meeting will be held to provide an opportunity for the objectors, Ward Councillors and the applicant to discuss any concerns.

It is a good idea to look at ways that you may be able to compromise with the objectors through amending your proposal or agreeing to certain conditions on your permit. This may occasionally lead to people actually withdrawing their objections.

Our Council officers then prepare a report that outlines:

  • the proposal
  • the relevant policies and planning scheme requirements
  • the assessment process
  • objections or referral comments.

They then make a recommendation and Councillors will make the final decision.

Stage 6 – A decision is made

Approval - If there are no objections, we can issue a permit immediately.

Notice of Decision - If we want to approve the application, and there are less than ten objections, we must issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit. All objectors will be sent this notice and will have 21 days to lodge an application for review at VCAT, if they wish.

If no objectors lodge a review with VCAT during this time, we will grant the permit. Similarly, if the applicant is unhappy with any of the proposed permit conditions, they can also apply to VCAT within the 60 days to have the conditions reviewed.

For more information, read our planning proceedings at VCAT guide.

Refusal - We can decide to refuse a permit, even if there were no objections to it.

If a permit is refused, a Refusal to Grant a Permit notice will be issued that will detail why the permit has been refused. This will be sent to the applicant and all other parties who commented on the application. If you wish to challenge the refusal you have 60 days to apply for a review at VCAT.

Stage 7 – Review by VCAT (if requested)

If you are unhappy with our decision with regard to a planning permit, you can lodge an appeal with VCAT. This includes:

  • objecting to the granting of a permit
  • objecting to a refusal of a permit
  • objecting to the conditions placed on a permit/or lack of conditions

For more information, read our planning proceedings at VCAT guide or check out VCAT’s website.


We are mindful that planning permit applicants are often under time and financial pressures, and seek to process all applications as efficiently as possible. However, there are strict processes (as described above) that must be followed when assessing an application. It is important that applicants have a good understanding of the process and the potential time that it can take to reach a decision.

State Government regulations stipulate that applicants can refer their application to VCAT if we fail to make a decision within 60 days of receipt. If you are asked to provide further information, it is 60 days from the date all the relevant information is received and any advertising requirements are met.

Realistically, depending on the size and detail of the proposed works, it can take anywhere from four weeks for small applications, and much longer for large-scale applications. The more steps needed to pass through the assessment process, the longer a decision is likely to take.

Timeframe for large, complex development

For example, an application for the construction of a four-storey apartment involving a subdivision or town house development may need to go through the following stages (please note timeframes are estimates only and will vary):

Planning permit process Timeframe

We check application for all relevant information and to see if everything has been filled in correctly or if there is anything missing.

1-2 weeks

We ask the applicant for further information and then waits for applicant to respond.

4 weeks

We send application off to external agencies for their assessment and then waits for them to respond.

4-8 weeks

We advertise the application for the required two weeks (public notification period) to get community feedback.

2-4 weeks

We get objections and organises community consultation or deputations meetings. We need to give community members several weeks notice before holding a meeting.

4 weeks

We assess the application in accordance with planning guidelines and puts together a report with recommendations and wait for Councillors make a decision.

2-4 weeks

If the applicant or community is not happy with the decision and appeals to VCAT.

12 weeks

Total Timeframe: 31-40 weeks (about 10 months)

On the other hand, an application to replace a front fence or to construct a swimming pool may involve no public notification or attract any objections and can skip straight to:

  • reporting -1-2 weeks
  • assessment and then a decision by a planning officer - 1-2 weeks

Total Timeframe: 2-4 weeks

Tips to save time

To make sure that your application is processed as quickly as possible:

  • speak to your neighbours in advance about your proposal
  • speak to a Council planner before lodging your application
  • ensure that all the necessary information is included in your application when it is lodged
  • work openly with us and objectors (if any) to come to a compromised agreement, if necessary

If you are concerned about the time it will take to process your application, our Council officers will be able to provide you with an estimated timeframe.

VicSmart fast track planning applications

We follow the Victorian Government's VicSmart process for straightforward planning applications.

Viewing planning permit applications

Track your current permit applications online.

For more information

Call us on 9243 8888 or enquire in person at our Statutory Planning counter at the Civic Centre.

Last updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2018, 12:03 AM