How To Have A Pre-Application Meeting With Council

How To Have A Pre-Application Meeting With Council

What to consider before having a pre-application meeting with Council

Clients often ask if a pre-application meeting is necessary for their project. My advice is that it depends on what they are looking to do. In general, if your project is a fairly standard application, you may not need pre-application advice. For these projects, advice from your private Town Planner may be sufficient (and will be more timely too!).

So, how do I go about determining if a pre-application meeting is worthwhile? Before starting the process I consider what value or information I’m trying to get from a pre-application meeting. I consider whether these things apply to the project:

  • Is something unique proposed
  • Is clarity on a planning control needed

This helps me to determine if a pre-application meeting is necessary.

Unique Proposal

If the proposed use or development is unusual, or there is some aspect or feature of the site that is different, gaining information from the Council early in the process can be very beneficial. Examples of some recent projects that have been assisted with pre-application advice include tourist activities, dwellings in Green Wedge areas and activities that aren’t well defined by the Planning Scheme. Having an early discussion with Council can assist with identifying what information will be a necessary part of the application, which can help to streamline and progress the application faster once it is lodged. It may also help with identifying aspects of a proposal that may be best suited to the land, helping to refine the proposal to maximise Council support.

Planning Controls Clarity

Sometimes more information is required on interpreting a planning control (or the interaction of several controls). It may be that this planning control is fairly new, or that there is a new control proposed and more information is needed to understand how that may impact an application in the future. There may have also been a recent project on an adjacent site and gaining early information on that site can help to steer the best outcome for your site.

Often the questions can be answered with a phone call to the planning department and don’t require formal pre-application advice, however we can assess the best way to get advice for each project.

If neither of these things apply to your site I would generally suggest that formal pre-application advice is not necessary and will just add extra time to the overall process for you.

How to Request Pre-Application Advice

Many Council’s have moved to online lodgements, and this includes for pre-application requests. Often you can apply via an online portal or via email. Some Councils offer pre-application meetings, and some offer written pre-application advice. There will be information on their website as to what they offer.

When you submit the request for pre-application advice or a meeting you will need to provide some details of what you are proposing. For some projects this may be details about a proposed use, but if a development is involved you will generally need some preliminary or sketch plans. You will also need to send in a copy of the title.

Some Council’s charge a small fee for the pre-application service as well, which should be detailed on their website.

What to Consider Before Booking

Before starting with a pre-application enquiry you should consider what you want to achieve and how you will respond to Council feedback. If concerns are raised then I recommend that when the application is lodged you demonstrate how that advice was responded to. There is no point asking for advice and then ignoring it all! If you think that an application may be controversial, but you want to try to push the envelope as far as possible, it may be better to just lodge the application and work through the process (including any refinements) once you have an allocated Planner. In this way you also avoid a situation where you get advice from one Planner only to be allocated a different Planner for the application who may have different ideas.

You should also consider that Council is unlikely to give you a straight green light and the more discussions and feedback sought prior to lodging the application, the further you might move from your original vision. For this reason I would say that for most applications you should only get pre-application advice once from the Council. After that, or for standard applications, you can engage with your private town planner to provide advice.

We offer preliminary planning advice and for more complex projects we can also run a pre-application advice request through Council and attend a meeting on your behalf.

If you are looking for initial advice or want some assistance in engaging with the Council for pre-application advice then we would be more than happy to assist.