Time Limit to Use a Planning Permit

After a planning permit gets issued how long do you have to act on it?  Make sure you know, as if you forget to watch your time limit you could end up with an expired permit and have to go through the process all over again!

There are different time limits depending on the type of planning permit, so it is important to check your conditions of your planning permit.  However, the majority of planning permits for developments will have two (2) years to commence and then must be completed within four (4) years.  This date is taken from the date that the permit was issued.

Some important things to note about the time limits:

  • The time limit is not automatically extended by an amendment to the permit.
  • Once the period to extend a time limit has passed the permit has expired and the only way to continue is with a new planning application.
  • Standard practice is for the Council to issue you with a letter noting your new time limits and not a new planning permit date.  Therefore it is important to keep the letter together with the permit for a complete record.

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.  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 two 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?

How Many Extensions To The Permit 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.

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.  They should be able to advise you if there have been any changes to the Planning Scheme, or any proposed changes that may affect your request for an extension of time.