Extensions of Time For Planning Permits

Extensions of Time For Planning Permits

Can you extend the time limit of your planning permit?

The short answer is yes, you can apply for an extension of time to your planning permit. Every Council has a process for you to apply to extend your time on a planning permit, either to extend the time to commence or the time to finish what has been approved.

Planning Permit Expiry

All Planning Permits are issued with an expiry date. The expiry date varies depending on the type of planning permit. The time limit on the planning permit will be detailed at the end of the permit.

As well as the time frame you have to enact the planning permit, there is also a time frame of when you can apply for the extension of time. A grace period after the expiry date is provided for you to apply for an extension of time. However once this period is exceeded there is no option but to reapply for a new planning permit, as the planning permit will be deemed lapsed. Once a permit is lapsed an extension of time cannot be granted. For this reason it is really important for you to keep track of your time limit.

Applying for An Extension of Time

1. Contact the Council For Their Process

The process for applying for an extension varies between Councils so it is best to contact your Council to find out their process.  Many of the Councils now have online portals for lodgements direct from their website. The fee is set by each Council as it is not a State controlled type of application, so that will vary as well.

2. Set Out The Details Of Why You Need The Extension

You need to provide an explanation as to why an extension is required.  If applicable it is also good to provide an indication of when you will be able to commence or finish the project.  You don’t have to go into too much detail , but a brief summary of why you need the extension will assist the Council in considering the request.

3. Council Assessment

Once you have submitted your request it will be allocated to a planner, often the original planner you had for the application (if that is possible).  They will then consider your request.  In considering this they will be mindful of three things in particular:

  • How many extensions of time have been granted previously?
  • Have there been any changes to the planning scheme that affects this original decision?
  • Has the development started?

The Covid 19 Pandemic in particular has also made Councils more mindful of considering if there is a significant external factor leading to someone not starting or completing their planning permit activity.

How Many Extensions have been granted?

While there is no set limit to how many times a planning permit can be extended, Council will be mindful of “landbanking”.  They want to ensure that there is orderly planning to the municipality and this includes reasonable time to act on a planning permit.

If a planning permit has already been extended a few times, the risk of changes to the planning scheme also increases.  Which leads us to the second consideration of the Council.

Have There Been Any Changes To The Planning Scheme?

The question that they need to answer is, “Would the Council grant a permit for this proposal today?”.  If there have been significant changes to the planning scheme since the decision was made and if you were to apply for a planning permit today and it would be refused or prohibited, then it is likely the Council will refuse the application to extend the time limit of the permit.

What kind of changes could there be?

  • Changes to the Zone, such that the type of use is either not encouraged or prohibited now.
  • A new Overlay that provides different controls or restraints on the type of development allowed.
  • Changes to the Local Planing Policies that encourage different developments in your area.

Luckily for you, planning schemes generally take years to change.  So if it is your first extension request there will hopefully not have been any significant changes to the planning scheme that will impact on you.

Has the Development Started?

If the development has been substantially started, then the Council will usually be in favour of issuing an extension of time for it to be completed. Even if there are changes to the planning controls, it would generally be considered more orderly to allow a development that was largely built to be completed rather than have it remain unfinished for a long period of time.

4. Council Decision

The last step in this process is receiving the Council decision.  Hopefully it is to approve the extension of time so that you can continue your project.  As noted earlier, it is important to keep the record of your extension with your planning permit, as a new dated planning permit will not be issued.

When Should You Apply For An Extension of Time?

It is best to apply close to the time that it would expire, but allowing enough time for it to go through the Council process is advisable.

The wording of a standard development permit allows for you to apply for an extension of time after the expiry date, for example you can apply for an extension of time within 6 months after the permit expiry date where the development has not started.  However, if there was some concern that the extension of time may not be granted I would recommend applying for the extension before the expiry date.  That way if the application is refused you may still have time to act on it to avoid the permit expiring.  If you get your extension of time refused after the permit has already expired, you will have no further time to act on the permit.  If that happens your only option will be to reapply for a new planning permit, potentially changing the proposal to respond to the reasons that the extension of time was refused.

If you don’t think that you will be able to start or complete your planning permit within the time limit it would be a good idea to talk to the Council early on if possible. 

If you want the details of how to apply for an extension of time you can contact your Council for information on their costs and process. Alternative, if you have a planning permit that is getting close to the expiry date and want to discuss options you can get in touch with us today.