Depending on the type and complexity of the project you are embarking on, there is the possibility that you may need a planning permit / approval from council.

Each site has its unique zoning, overlays and regulations. This means just because someone in your street has built a unit development, your site specific zoning and overlays may not allow you to do the same. Therefore, it is important to do some initial research before buying land or starting on an actual design.

In some instances, there is no way around avoiding the need for a planning permit. For instance, if you want to build more than one unit on a block,  if you have a heritage overlay or if you land is under 300 square metres in size.

On the other hand, if you are in a normal suburban setting, with no overlays and your land is larger than 500 square metres, it is likely you will not need a planning permit. 

However, in other cases, it might not be as straight forward. Many sites have one or even a few overlays. For example, you might have a vegetation protection overlay, meaning you are not allowed to remove or build close to any significant trees. However, if you can demonstrate that you will not impact on any existing trees you will not require a planning permit.

You might wonder: what is the issue with needing a planning permit? Well: time, money and potential design restrictions.

An application with council can take a very long time. Even small renovations / extensions can take 3 to 6 months. And when you are planning to build a new double storey home, it can easily blow out to 6 to 12 months. And there is always the danger that if your neighbours object to your proposal, even if council approves your plans, they can take you to VCAT. This can add even further delays. 

On top of that is the cost for the actual application fee. Which depends on the project build budget, but can sit somewhere between $1,200 to $1,500. Then there is the fee for advertising, which is usually a few hundred dollars. And you might require an arborist report which can cost you anything from a few hundred to well over a thousand dollars, depending on the number of trees on your or your neighbouring sites. And then there is also the added cost of the actual town planning drawings and potentially the cost of a private planner, to write up all the written reports and statements.  All these charges add up.

But not only that, when you have to submit your design to council, they might request / demand some design changes, because they don’t like your design adding even more delays and costs to your project… I will talk about this more in a later blog post.

As you can see, town planning can be a bit of a pain. Because of that, we typically try to explore options wherever a town planning permit can be avoided early on in the design process. And not only that, we like to get a written confirmation from council that no planning permit is needed. To make sure we are not running into problems later on.

We have experienced too many cases in the past where the clients had met with council and had several discussions about the design, or where we had discussions with council and where council had said there was no planning permit required.

Only to be told when we were lodging for the building permit: “Oh, we are really sorry, but it looks like you need a planning permit after all.” And of course, that can be an absolute disaster. Imagine you have moved out of your house, the builder is all lined up and suddenly you have to go back to council.

Because of that we do not trust any verbal feedback anymore. Once the concept design is finished, we just add a bit more information onto our plans, all the things that might potentially trigger the need for a planning permit, or rather prove that we are in line with all the regulations as per the zoning regulations and overlays: like all the setbacks, site coverage, distance to significant trees and so on.

Depending on council this process costs about $100 – $200 and might take a couple of weeks. But at the end you have a written confirmation that no permit is needed. Meaning you can start with the construction documentation and locking in your builder without needing to worry about any potential delays from council.

If you want to know more about this process. Please read our blog post, click on the image below: