Understanding planning jargon

173 Agreement

A Section 173 Agreement is a legal contract made between us and another party, usually the property owner, under Section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act (1987). The Agreement specifies what can or cannot be done on the land. For example the Agreement may state no development is allowed on the land or no subdivision, vegetation on the land must be protected, or that a facility on the land must be maintained.

Australian Height Datum

Australian Height Datum is the nomination of levels on a property and refers to the height of land above sea level.

Relative levels

The relative level of a site is taken from an arbitrary point as determined by a land surveyor.

Built form

The built form is the shape and character of buildings, and their overall contribution to a street or neighbourhood.

Certificate of Title

A Certificate of Title is a formal legal record about a particular piece of land. It contains basic information about the land including current ownership. If you do not have a copy of the Certificate of Title for your land, you can obtain a copy from the Land Information Centre, Level 10, 570 Bourke Street Melbourne. A Certificate of Title also records whether a Covenant or a Section 173 Agreement is registered on the land.

Consultation meeting

If planning applications attract ten or more objections, Council officers will organise a meeting with the applicant, objectors and Ward Councillors to discuss the proposal and any concerns and compromises that can be reached. This meeting is called a consultation meeting.


Easements are registered on title and are created to protect assets such as water pipes, electricity lines, sewerage pipes, etc. Easements are usually made out in favour of an authority.


Elevations are an image that shows the appearance of a building or structure including its height, length, width and dimensions. The elevations are drawn as if you’re looking at the proposed building or structure from the front, rear or side, providing an image of what the development would look like once constructed.

Existing use rights

Existing use occurs when your land is being used in a legal way, either with an approved permit or an approved use where a permit is not required, but then subsequent changes to the planning controls prohibit that use. For example, a factory legally operating in a residential zone because the land was once zoned industrial.

Failure to Determine

State Government regulations stipulate that Council must make a decision on a planning permit application within 60 days of receipt otherwise the applicant can refer the matter to VCAT. This is known as Failure to Determine. If you are asked to provide further information for your planning application, the 60 days start from when all the information is received.

Legal Point of Discharge

A Legal Point of Discharge is the point which is specified by Council as the drain entry into Council assets. These assets may include a Council drain, kerb and channel, easement or to an open drain.

Melbourne 2030 and Plan Melbourne

Melbourne is expected to grow by about 6.5 million people by 2050.

The State Government developed a planning document called Melbourne 2030 to help manage growth.  Melbourne 2030 is proposed to be replaced by Plan Melbourne

Both documents have directed most of the future development to take place in inner Melbourne suburbs.


The MSS or Municipal Strategic Statement will guide development across the Municipality and assist Council is assessing planning applications. The MSS as well as various local structure plans also address things like the provision of local services, amount of open space, impact on parking and traffic, pedestrian facilities and much more.

Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit

This is when Council intends to grant a planning permit and needs to inform all parties involved including people who objected to the proposal.

Notification and advertising period and public notification

Council advertises your planning application to seek comments from the community and your neighbours or to see if anyone objects to your planning proposal. This can be done through advertising in the local newspapers, on Council’s website, signage onsite or by sending a letter to nearby households.


Overlays come from the Victoria Planning Provisions and relate to land that has a specific issue such as heritage significance, environmental significance or flood risk.

Planning permit

A planning permit is essentially official permission from Council to make certain changes to your house or property or to use land in a certain way. This might include building a new fence or pool or adding a second story onto your home. The permit stipulates what you can and cannot do in relation to those changes.

Planning scheme

A planning scheme is a legal document that sets out policies and controls for the way land may be used, for example for housing or a shop/business, and what development is appropriate, for example what the height of a building should be and how much open space should be provided. All municipalities in Victoria have a planning scheme which is based on the State Government’s Victoria Planning Provisions.

Res Code

ResCode is a set of planning scheme provisions that applies to residential developments across Victoria. It applies to the construction or extension, of one or more dwellings up to and including three storeys in height.

Restrictive Covenant

A Restrictive Covenant is a private agreement between land owners which may restrict the way land may be used and developed. This will be registered on the land’s Certificate of Title.

Refusal to Grant a Permit

This is where Council does not approve a planning application and does not grant the permit.

Section 72 Amendment

This refers to proposed amendments to a planning permit and for endorsed plans. Amendments of this land are generally considered to be significant and can include proposed changes to what the original permit allowed. These amendments can be advertised.

Secondary Consent

This refers to wanting minor changes made to your plan(s) only, where a provision for change has been given in your permit conditions. For example, some planning permits include conditions which end with the phrase “…must not be altered without the written consent of the Responsible Authority.” This means that you can apply in writing for secondary consent to make minor changes to your plans.

Site and floor plans

Site and Floor Plans are an image which is drawn looking at the building from above.

Statutory planning

Statutory planning also known as town planning, is the team responsible for considering applications for a planning permit, such as an application to build or extend a property, replace a fence, open a business or construct an advertising sign. Applications for planning permits are assessed against the policies and controls in the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning is the team responsible for developing the policies and controls that make up the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme and looking at the longer term vision and direction of Moonee Valley including buildings, open space, economic development, location of services, and transport.


A setback describes how far back a building or house is on a piece of land in comparison to the property boundary. So if the boundary is from the edge of the footpath, the setback is measured in metres from this point.


Subdivision refers to a piece of land that has been divided up to create more properties. For example a large piece of land that had one property on it could be subdivided and redeveloped to have two or three townhouse on it.

To give notice

This means pursuant to Section 52 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, the application is required to be advertised by mail to adjoining and surrounding properties with a notice board erected along the properties frontage(s).


The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal - VCAT is a State Government appointed panel of experts that independently reviews planning decisions made by councils. If a developer or individual is unhappy with a council planning decision they can appeal at VCAT.


Zones allocate land for different uses, such as residential, industrial or business. They outline what the land can and can’t be used for and what buildings and works on that land may require a planning permit. Zones come from the Victoria Planning Provisions.

Last updated: Thursday, 7 June 2018, 10:40 AM