The Planning Application Process

So, you need planning approval for your renovation or development. But where do you start? What is the process? And what should you be on the lookout for?

Here are the six steps of a typical planning application. To remove confusion – and help you get a positive outcome.

1 Pre-lodgement

In the pre-lodgement stage, you’ll need to get your designer or architect to draw up all necessary plans. Your town planner can offer advice and assist with collating the information.

The desired result is to finalise the renovation or development’s proposed use – and make decisions on all the finer details, such as internal layout, parking arrangements and building materials.

We’ll then lodge the completed application to the Council on your behalf.

2 Initial assessment

This is when your planning application starts its journey with the Council.

It will be allocated to a town planner for an initial assessment. If needed, they may request additional information.

During the initial assessment, Council will tell us if they have any initial concerns or issues with the proposal. This gives us an opportunity to discuss the project further and amend the plans prior to step three – advertising.

3 Advertising

Once Council has accepted any amendments, your application will be advertised.

This means Council will share the proposed plans with anyone who may be impacted by your renovation or development – such as neighbours or surrounding businesses.

Advertising is typically carried out over a 14-day period. Council may use a contractor for the advertising notices or have you do it yourself. Either way, the advertising materials will incur a fee.

Any objections to your application are usually received during the advertising period but will be accepted up until the date Council make their decision on your application.

Not all planning applications need to be advertised. But Council likes to take a cautious approach, so most applications are.

4 Final assessment

Once the advertising period is complete, it’s time to wait for the Council planner to complete the final assessment of your application.

They’ll consider any objections received and, if necessary, organise a consultation with you and the objecting party. They may also want to discuss any referral comments received after the initial assessment.

Referral comments come from internal Council departments, and can consist of – but are not limited to – the following concerns:

  • Engineering: Parking or drainage issues
  • Vegetation: Tree removal or protection
  • Parks and gardens: Nature strips and public trees and gardens
  • Heritage and urban design: Aesthetics of the development

You’ll then need to wait for the planner to write their report and have it reviewed by their team leader.

5 Council Decision

Once Council has made their decision and signed off on the report, a copy of the formal decision will be sent to you – or whoever submitted the proposal on your behalf.

The possible decisions are:

  • Approval: A Planning Permit will be issued with conditions
  • Refusal: A Notice of Refusal will be issued with grounds (reasons) for refusal
  • Notice of Decision: A temporary state when the Council approves the application but there are objectors. You’ll receive a copy of all future planning permit conditions. And all potential objectors will receive 28 days to appeal the decision at VCAT. Once this time has passed, Council will issue the final Planning Permit.

6 Endorsement

Your newly issued Planning Permit may contain changes Council want to make to your plans – known as amendments.

If they request amendments, you’ll need to modify your plans in accordance with the Planning Permit and submit them back to Council for endorsement.

Once your plans are endorsed, the approval is complete – and town planning is finished. Congratulations!