In the last few posts we spoke a bit about the town planning lingo.  So, let’s dive deeper.


Town Planning Application and Initial Assessment.  
(up to 30 days)


The first step in the process is the lodgement of the town planning application. In most instances the plans can be sent electronically to your local council.

The application will take several days to be assigned to a planner for assessment. 

Most municipalities will issue a confirmation letter. That your application has been received and who the Planner is. 

Once your application has been assigned, the Planner will do their initial assessment. 

Generally, they will respond within 30 days. This can vary depending on the complexity of your application. And how many applications are currently assessed by the department. 

On the very (!) rare occasion that an application doesn’t need Advertising. A permit may be issued and you will move on to providing plans for endorsement. 

This can only happen if the assessing officer deems that the information provided demonstrates that the proposal is in line with the planning requirements. (PS: this barely ever happens)

Usually the assessing officer is not satisfied with the information provided. And they will issue an RFI (request for further information) to the applicant.


To read about the next steps in the process please have a look out for the other posts.


STEP TWO (a,b,c…)
RFI (Request for further Information) responses and reassessments
(typically up to 30 days per RFI, plus the time to respond to the RFI/s also up to 30 days)

As mentioned, an RFI from the Planner is very common. This RFI may contain any number of points requesting any information the assessing officer deems is necessary to demonstrate the meeting of planning objectives.

Often these RFI’s may look like a lot. But it is mostly a matter of copy and paste. And in most instances many of the requested things would already be on the plans. So don’t be alarmed if it looks like a lot.


These may include: 

  • requesting extra dimensions, notes or details
  • requests to change elements of the development (eg.colour, shape, setbacks, screening… ) 
  • or requesting plans and reports from third party consultants (eg, Arborist report; Landscape design, drainage – Civil Engineering – plans, Bushfire Hazard Assessment …).

If consultant reports or plans are required, it can take time to respond to an RFI.

The relevant consultant/s will need to be engaged first. A site visit may be required before they can produce their report or plans. The consultants details need to be incorporated or referenced in the drawings. Once all the points of the RFI have been addressed the Planner will re-assess the application. If the planner has further doubts they may send follow up RFIs. Though it is uncommon to receive more than 2 (two). Once the Planner has enough information the application can go to Advertising. 

If your project does not need advertising the planner will do their final assessment. (eg Bushfire Management Overlay triggers) 

(This is not to say that they will grant a permit) 

To read about the next steps in the process, please have a look at the other posts. 


Advertising, Objections and Final Decision
(min 30days including 14days of advertising if required)

 In most cases, a town planning permit application will require advertising. 

This allows your neighbours the opportunity to raise any objections.   For Example:

  • overshadowing their property too much
  • overlooking their private open space
  • too much visual bulk

On some lesser complex applications, the planner may opt to only notify your immediate neighbours via a letter. 

On all other applications council will erect (or have you erect) a notification sign in front of the subject site for no less than 14 days. (often 28 days during summer holidays).

As part of this community consultation the application documents and plans will be made accessible to the public for the duration of the advertising. Most Planners will allow 30 days for objections to be received. Before making their final decision to grant or deny the permit.

If the decision of the council is to grant a permit. And if there have been no objections lodged, then you will be issued a permit and move on to step Five. 

If there was an objection or if the decision is to deny a planning permit, the application moves to step Four.  NOTE: If you need a planning permit and it is likely that you will need advertising . We would recommend introducing yourself to your neighbours. To let them know of your plans well before the advertising stage. If you are on good terms with your direct neighbours then you may be able to avoid objections. And avoid waiting an extra 28 days for your permit or even avoid a VCAT case.

To read about the next steps in the process, please have a look at the other posts.


Notice of Decision and VCAT Appeals
(28 days or up to 60 days – add the time it takes for the case to be heard at VCAT if an appeal is lodged)

If the Notice of Decision is to grant a permit, but there has been an objection, the Objector has 28 days to lodge an appeal with VCAT. Otherwise Council will issue the permit.

If the Notice of Decision is to deny a planning permit, then the applicant has 60 days to Lodge an appeal with VCAT.

If the applicant is successful after an appeals process council will issue the permit.

 To read about the next steps in the process, please have a look at the other posts. 


Permit Issue and Conditions
(Time to amend plans plus 5 business days to check and stamp plans)

When a permit is issued it will always include at least one condition. (Condition 1 ) 

Which states that a set of plans endorsed by council is to form part of the permit. Which will need to be addressed on the plans before they are resubmitted for endorsement. Depending on the number and type of conditions included on the Permit. This could take a few days to a few weeks to amend. But once the Condition 1 plans are resubmitted, council is generally quick to endorse them. 

To read about the next steps in the process, please have a look at the other posts.


In Summary, 

 A planning permit can be fast and easy. But it can also be slow and difficult.

Here a best case scenario and a worst case scenario as an example.

  1. You are lucky enough to have a site with few restrictions. And advertising is not required. Your proposed extension is not visible from the street. Your planning permit only takes a matter of about 2 months.
  2. You are proposing two bulky two storey dwellings. Your site has bushfire restrictions. There are design controls in place that don’t match the aesthetic you are proposing. Council sends out 3 separate RFIs. And you have neighbours who object to council. Your application drags out to a little over 2 years. Because council denies your application. And you opt to take the matter to VCAT. Where you win, in part because council took more than 60 days to respond at one of the stages.

 You can see why the question “how long will it take to get a Town Planning Permit?” is a tricky one. 

As a bit of a guide. A normal town planning permit involving a new dwelling can take between 6 – 9 months. Assuming there are few to no complications within the process. 

It is important to keep in mind that just because you or even us as designers think that the application is simple doesn’t mean the assigned town planner will think so too.