The Difference Between Town Planning Permits and Building Permits


The town planning process provides developers, home owners and builders with a planning permit. Sometimes this can be confused with a building permit.  I will explain the differences below.

The word Build made up of toy building construction blocks

Building permits are written approval that demonstrates that your project complies with the relevant building legislation and codes and will be built correctly. You apply for a building permit through a building surveyor, either a Council building surveyor or a private company.  They come after the town planning permit has been approved.   If you would like more detail on the building permit process heard to the Victorian Building Authority website.

Stamped Approval

Town Planning permits are the written document that shows you have approval from the town planning department of the local Council for your project. Town planning permits aren’t always required but if they are needed you have to get it before you can get a building permit.

You can only apply to the relevant local Council for a planning permit. As part of the town planning process you will need to provide written support for your proposal as well as plans of the site and proposal. If the project is approved a planning permit will be issued and the plans will be endorsed. Both of these together form the complete planning approval.

The planning permit will contain a number of conditions of the approval as well as a time limit within which you must act.

Parts of a Planning Permit

  • The first section provides details on the address of land and what the planning permit specifically allows.
  •  Underneath that are the list of conditions. The first condition is where the Council will request any changes that are needed to the plans before they can be endorsed. Other conditions that may be put on the planning permit include things such as drainage requirements, specific use controls such as hours of operation, car parking or crossover construction works as well as the time limit you have to enact the planning permit.
  • Council’s often add another section to the end of the planning permit called notes. These are general comments that may be relevant to your project, but are not specific to the proposal. Things like the process for the allocation of street numbers or that a building permit is still required.
  • The planning permit will also be signed and dated.  It is this date that is relevant for any time limits that apply.

Some of the planning permit conditions will remain in force for as long as the use continues, for example an approval for a café with a condition specifying particular operating hours will remain until the use finishes or the permit is amended.

At Change of Plan we specialise in getting town planning approval for our clients. If you are unsure whether you will need a town planning permit you can contact us to discuss your project and we will be able to advise you accordingly.