The planning permit process explained

Below is an explanation of the entire planning permit process. 

Stage one – prior to making a planning application

Before lodging a planning permit application, it is important to find out exactly what planning controls apply to your property and discuss them with one of our planners, an independent town planning consultant or other related industry professional.

All properties have a set of planning controls that specify when a planning permit is needed. If you are unsure of what planning controls apply to your property or site you can:

It is also recommended that once you have preliminary plans and documents for your proposal that you arrange to have a pre-application meeting with us.

In addition to this it is also recommended that you consult with your neighbours detailing the nature of your proposal if possible, as this may minimise any potential conflicts during the application process.

Stage two – prepare and submit the application

We recommend that you seek professional advice to prepare your planning permit application, or do it yourself using our planning application checklists as a guide and take into account the advice provided during the pre-application meeting.

Typically, the information you need to include will vary depending on what permit is required. However, most applications generally require the following information:

  • a lodgement fee (see our statutory planning fees page);
  • a description of what the permit is for and what the proposal involves;
  • an estimation of the cost of the works (if the application is for development/buildings and works). From 1 July 2018, a valid Metropolitan Planning Levy Certificate will be required where the estimated cost of works for the proposed development exceeds $1,052,000. You may obtain a Metropolitan Planning Levy from the State Revenue Office;
  • a current Certificate of Title including Plan of Subdivision and any covenants or Section 173 Agreements which can be obtained from Landata; and
  • copies of plans and any other additional information such as town planning reports.

Refer to our planning application checklists for more specific information

Lodging your application

As of August 2018, all planning permit applications are to be lodged online using our online applications portal. Please ensure that you have registered an account prior to submitting your application. Please allow up to 48 hours for your account to be activated. 

Register online. 

You will receive an acknowledgment letter from us after lodging your application which will confirm the planning officer allocated to the file.

All applications lodged will also be added to our online register.

To minimise confusion and reduce time frames of the processing of the application, it is our policy that only the nominated applicant will be contacted for all correspondence.

Stage three – review of 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 via e-mail within 28 days so you can complete the application.

If you need additional time to provide further information, please email us council@mvcc.vic.gov.au requesting an extension of time to provide the further information. Please include the reasons why you need more time and provide us with a reasonable revised due date.

Please note that if you do not provide us with all the requested information or write to request more time before the required time frame, your application will be lapsed and will need to be formally re-lodged with full payment of relevant fees. At times, some applicants change their application as a result of feedback or a request for further information. Sometimes the situation changes and an applicant needs to alter their planning application. If substantial changes are made or required you may need to apply for a Section 50A amendment for us to consider these changes.

The application may also be referred to other internal departments, such as development engineering (drainage) and (traffic), heritage advisors, or external agencies such as Melbourne Water or VicRoads.

If your application needs to be referred, please allow for extra time as these bodies need sufficient time to assess your application. Please note, during this period there may be additional issues raised as a result of the comments provided by these bodies. 

Stage four – public notification is given (if required) 

The Victorian planning system is set up to ensure that any interested party can have a chance to comment on a planning permit before a decision is made.

The planning officer will decide if and how public notification needs to be given. This could take the form of:

  • direct mail notification;
  • on-site signage; and
  • an advertisement in the local newspaper.

If we are satisfied that the application will not negatively impact anyone or notification is not required in accordance with the requirements of the planning scheme 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 or 30 days during the Christmas holiday period.

All advertised applications will also be added to our online register.

At times, during the advertising period they may wish to amend your plans to respond to outstanding concerns or issues raised by us or any potential objectors. If substantial changes are made or required you may need to apply for a Section 57A amendment for us to consider these changes, this will incur a fee of 40% of the original application fee if any changes are undertake post-advertising of the application. Requests for Section 57A amendments are to be made using the online applications portal.

Lodging an objection

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. If you wish to objector/support a planning application this can be completed online.

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

It should be noted that all objections/letters of support are public documents, as such can be given to the applicant of a planning application.

Stage five – assessing the application and preparing a report

If public notification is required, after the advertising period and there are nine or less objections from the community a planning officer will assess the application and make a decision. Any application which receives objection/s will typically take longer to assess as the planner must provide commentary on issues raised in the objection and present their recommendation to an internal panel for review and a final 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 some objections being withdrawn.

Our officers will prepare a report that outlines:

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

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

Stage six – a decision is made 

Approval

If there are no objections, we can issue a permit immediately. An applicant can also apply to VCAT within the 60 days to have the conditions reviewed.

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 28 days to lodge an application for review at VCAT, if they wish. The applicant can also apply to VCAT within the 60 days to have the conditions reviewed.

If no objectors lodge a review with VCAT during this time, Council will grant the permit.

Refusal

Council 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. An applicant can also apply to VCAT within the 60 days to have the decision reviewed.

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

Stage seven – review by VCAT (if required) 

If you are unhappy with Council’s 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; and
  • objecting to the conditions placed on a permit/or lack of conditions.

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

Stage eight – extend a permit (if issued) 

Planning permits include conditions. The last condition on a planning permit advises you on when to start and complete the permit. The ’finish’ date is the expiry date of the permit.

When can I lodge an extension to my planning permit? 

There are many factors that may cause a delay in the commencement/completion of works, or operation. Most permits expire two years from the date of issue unless otherwise specified.

However, if you feel that you need extra time, you can apply for an extension to your permit. A request for an extension of time to a planning permit can be made:

  • Before the permit expires; or
  • Within 6 months after the permit expires; or
  • Within 12 months after the permit expires, if the development lawfully commenced before the expiry date and you wish to extend the time to complete the development.

Any request made outside of the above times is not able to be considered and you will need to reapply for a planning permit. Please see how Stage Two for information about how to apply for a planning permit.

How can I apply to extend a planning permit?

All extension of time requests are to be submitted online through the online applications portal.

Timeframes

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.

If we receive 10 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.

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, a development must constructed in accordance with the requirements of an approved planning permit, 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.

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

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.

Elevation

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.

For further information for Existing Use right please contact Council 9243 9111.

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.

Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS)

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 could take the form of:

  • Direct mail notification;
  • On-site signage; and
  • An advertisement in the local newspaper.

Overlays

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. An example might include building a new fence, adding a second story onto your home, construction of two dwellings on a lot or to sale and consume alcohol on a site. The permit stipulates what you can and cannot do in relation to those changes.

Planning Permit Preamble

A planning permit preamble is descriptive statement which specifies what the planning permit is for. The planning permit preamble must include all aspects of the proposal that require approval.

Planning Permit Conditions

Planning permit conditions can confer rights and obligations on the permit operator. So long as a permit is relied upon, these rights and obligations live on in relation to the land in addition to any scheme requirements.

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.

Relative levels

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

ResCode

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 a condition which states “The development as shown on the endorsed plans 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. Changes requested under Secondary Consent must not require any changes to the planning permit preamble, planning permit conditions or need to be advertised.

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.

Setback

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

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).

VCAT

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

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: Wednesday, 17 April 2019, 7:56 AM