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Understanding Planning Permits – Victoria

In Victoria, local councils are responsible for issuing planning permits which are typically regulated by planning schemes. If you are unsure as to whether you need a planning permit for a project, you should contact your local council or engage a planning professional to determine whether you require a planning permit for your development.

What is a planning permit?

Planning permits allow land to be used or developed in a particular way. For example, you may require a planning permit to subdivide land, change the use of existing property, build an additional dwelling on land, or for commercial or industrial developments.

The permit will generally stipulate conditions that must be complied with and it is essential that you understand these conditions.

A planning permit is not a building permit, and both may be required for a proposed development.

A planning permit may not always be required to use or develop land. Local planning schemes allow for some changes in land use without the need for a permit, provided certain conditions are met.

Certain types of development may be prohibited on your particular land under the relevant planning scheme, so it is important to check this. If you are uncertain, we can provide guidance in this regard.

Process and requirements

Applications for a planning permit are made in accordance with the Planning and Environment Regulations 2015.

The application must include a full description of the proposed development and sufficient supporting information such as plans – including floor plans and elevations, reports, and photographs.

Councils have different processes and checklists for planning permits so you should contact the relevant council to determine the information and detail required in your application.

Before submitting your application, you should ensure that:

  • you have included the information required under the planning scheme;
  • an accurate description of the land has been given;
  • the development proposal has been described satisfactorily;
  • your application includes a copy of any registered restrictive covenants affecting the land you wish to develop;
  • the application addresses the municipal strategic statement and local planning policies;
  • the application addresses relevant planning scheme provisions including zones, overlays and any other provisions; and
  • the application fee has been paid and the person making the application is the owner of the land or has notified the owner about the application.

Planning laws are complex, and it may be beneficial to retain a property lawyer, town planner or other professional to help with your application.

Pre-application meetings

Some local councils offer a pre-application meeting where the council can explain the planning process in more detail and the requirements of your proposal and discuss the key issues.

Your local council should follow up with a letter outlining everything discussed at the pre-application meeting. Pre-application meetings are a great way to make sure you are not delayed by having to redo part or all of your application later in the process. The meeting will also give you an insight as to whether your application meets the requirements of your local council’s planning scheme.

After the application has been lodged

After your application for a planning permit has been lodged, the council and in some cases the Minister for Planning, will assess the application and notify other relevant bodies.

The council will determine whether the development proposal will produce acceptable outcomes in terms of Victoria’s State Planning Policy Framework, the Local Planning Policy Framework, and the purpose and decision guidelines of the planning scheme requirements.

Once lodged, the application is a public document and can be inspected accordingly.

Depending on the type of permit sought, the application may be subject to notice (advertising) requirements and a process for considering any submissions, objections, and referrals before a decision is made.

Council will then either grant or refuse the permit.

Do planning permits expire?

Planning permits are always subject to a time limit and will expire under specific circumstances. The local council will impose conditions when granting a planning permit and endorsed plans will also usually form part of the permit.

What happens if my application for a planning permit is rejected?

If your local council refuses to grant you a planning permit, they will issue you with a Notice of Refusal to Grant a Permit. The reasons for the refusal will be listed in the notice and a copy will be sent to all parties involved in the application process.

You may wish to have the council’s decision reviewed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Information about applications for review by VCAT is printed on the back of the refusal notice.

Sometimes a council planner might advise in advance if your application is going to be refused so that you have an opportunity to make changes to the application that address council’s concerns. You are not under any obligation to action the recommended changes as there may sometimes be a fundamental difference between the outcome you desire and the council’s decision. In this situation, the dispute can only be resolved through VCAT.

You have 60 days from when the notice of refusal is provided to apply for a review of the decision by VCAT. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice if you receive a Notice of Refusal to Grant a Permit and consider lodging an application for review as soon as possible.


People may believe that applying for a planning permit is a straight-forward process. The information above however shows that applications for planning permits can become complex and overwhelming, especially if your application has been rejected.

This information is for general purposes, and we recommend you obtain professional advice relevant to your circumstances.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (03) 9592 3356 or email  or fill in the web contact form here:


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Understanding Planning Permits – Victoria : City Pacific Lawyers

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