Category Archives: Real Estate

What are the Planning Permits?

planning permits

If you want to build your dream home or change or add to your current home, you’ll need a planning permit. But what are planning permits and when and why do you need one? How do you go about getting one?

Luckily for you, the answers to all those questions are below.

What is a planning permit?  

A planning permit is a legal document that allows you to use or develop a piece of land. It is a written document that includes specific terms and conditions for developing and protecting the land. Usually, there are around 20-40 conditions. You may need to amend your application to show that you intend to meet these conditions.

It’s important to remember that a planning permit is not the same as a building permit. Building permits refer to the method of construction. You may, however, need to get both kinds of permits, depending on the development. There are penalties and fines for not getting a permit.

When do you need a permit? 

There are a number of reasons why you may need a permit. Some of the most common include:

  • Constructing or changing a building
  • Starting or changing the use of the land, particularly if it will increase demand for car parks
  • Erecting a sign
  • Subdividing the land
  • Clearing native vegetation from land
  • Altering a heritage property

You may not need a permit; however, it is up to you to find out. Talk to your local council or a town planner to find out if you need one.

Why do you need a permit? 

Your local city council has rules and regulations regarding how land can be used. They may have plans for certain areas and want to encourage certain developments over others. The State Government may also have objectives they want followed.

By asking you to get a permit, your city council is making sure that your development will fit with the area. This includes things like:

  • Maintaining or improving the character of an area
  • Ensuring the development won’t affect the local environment
  • Preserving heritage sites by making sure they aren’t demolished or detrimentally altered
  • Land uses are appropriately located, like ensuring the CBD has more business and office space than residential
  • Buildings and land uses aren’t in conflict, like not having high-rise buildings next to an airport

How do you get a permit?

Getting a permit is relatively simple, but you need to be thorough and make sure your application has all the important information to ensure it gets processed quickly.

Step 1: Speak with your local council

Visit your city council planning department to find out what information you need to include. Discuss if you need a permit at all. They can also tell you if there are clear reasons why your proposal may not go ahead.

You can even organize a pre-application appointment with your council to go through everything you need. Alternatively, you can consult a planning professional.

Many councils also have checklists on their websites for what needs to go into an application. These checklists will typically be categorized by the type of work being done.

Step 2: Complete the application

Once you’re sure you need a permit and understand what you need to include, you can complete your application. The application form will be on your city council planning information website, or you can pick it up in person from your local council.

In Victoria, your application will need to include the following:

  • A completed application form
  • A copy of the land title (dated no more than 30 days prior to submitting the application). This should include any relevant diagrams or plans of subdivision, as well as the Register Search Statement listing encumbrances or restrictive covenants.
  • Application fee
  • A valid Metropolitan Planning Levy Certificate if the estimated cost of the development will be more than one million dollars

Depending on the development, you may also need to include things like:

  • A neighborhood and site description
  • Building plans and elevations
  • Relevant management plans
  • Photographs of the existing property

For these additional items, refer to the checklist on the council’s website – Victorian Building Authority (VBA) and any other information the council has provided you.

Step 3: Submit your application

Once you have all your paperwork in order, the application is ready to be submitted. Double check you have everything.

You can submit your application online, by mail or in person. 

Once you have submitted, the council will decide if a planning permit can be issued. This may happen quickly or take some time. It depends on how complex the development is.

You may be asked to provide additional information or respond to queries.


By following these steps, you should hopefully find obtaining a permit simple and straightforward. If you are having difficulty, there are professional planning consults who can help you complete the application.