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  • Writer's pictureSwarup Dutta

How long does it take to get a Planning Permit.

Planning Permit: How long dies it take?

Do I need a Planning Permit?

Yes you do for a dual occupancy or town house project of if the site is small or burdened by overlays.

Yes need your local Victorian Council's consent if you are planning to subdivide a property.

You must also apply for a Planning Permit if

(a) you plan to build a single dwelling on a lot size smaller than the minimum size allowed by your Council, which is usually 300 sqm but can also be higher or

(b) if your property is burdened by certain overlays. Overlays could include the Heritage Overlay, a bush fire (BMO) overlay or one that deals with vegetation, erosion, flooding,zoning, neighbourhood character overlay or cultural heritage overlay to name a few.

How long does it take to obtain a decision from Council?

The PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT ACT 1987 stipulates the time limit for Council to make a decision.

If the decision is not made within the stipulated time limit then one has to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ( VCAT) who will make the decision.

In this type of application to the Tribunal, VCAT will assume Council refused the Application. You may need to advertise the Application if Council has not done so.

If you lose at the Tribunal you may then need to re apply at Council.

We know council has a time frame to make a decision after the last Request for Further Information is provided.

Is it better to persist with Council and work through patiently or take your chances with the VCAT- which is an expensive exercise and can take months before you get a hearing date or a decision.

Council may take 6 months or more to issue a decision. It could stretch out to nine months or longer. The longest our Founder has experienced is 2 years before Council issued a Permit.

If you decide to stick at Council then you will need to follow these steps for a dual occupancy, multi unit development :

Pre-application meeting .

We recommend conducting a Pre-Application meeting for large projects. Your Architect or designer should be able to run a simple town house or dual occupancy projects without one- unless there are grey areas or complex overlays.

The planning officer will provide some guidance on the design but their comments may be very fluid!

A Pre App meeting can also be problematic as one is presenting preliminary design sketches and not the full Town Planning set of documents. Sometimes that lack of information could confuse the Council Planning Officer who could think of negatives more than positives!

The Town Planning Application

A town Planning Application should be accompanied by a full set of drawings (including but not limited to plans, elevations, Site description, shadow diagrams, overlooking solutions) a written report and maybe a Landscape Plan. A copy of recent title must be provided together with the Application Fees. Development costs in excess of $1 million (please check the current threshold) must be accompanied by the Planning Levy Certificate

Request For Further Information (RFI)

Council must within a prescribed time notify if it requires any further Information (the RFI) in the prescribed manner. Council may request further information if your planning permit application is not complete. Council may request further RFI's

Advertising or Public Notification

If your planning permit application involves use or development of land that affects other houses, units or businesses, then your application may be advertised. The advertising period technically expires after 14 days.

A neighbour or for that matter anyone can object to the Planning Application. The objectors can lodge an objection to Council in writing. An objection is really valid if it has merit in terms of breach of the planning regulations. Emotional objections (which are quite common) are often ignored.

However a large number of objections can pose a problem both for the Planning Officer (who gets tired explaining the Application to objectors) or the Councillors who are thinking of the next election!

Very often a consultation meeting is arranged between the Applicant and the objectors. The Planning officer and Ward Councillors chair such meetings which can be emotionally charged. The most number of objectors I encountered was 82 and in smaller on site mediation meetings the objectors could get quite upset.

The Decision- A permit or a Refusal.

After the mediation is over, Council must make a decision to Grant a Permit, or Refuse the Application or if there are objections issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit (NOD).

The objectors can then accept the NoD or appeal the NoD at the VCAT.

A failure to make a decision within the prescribed time limit could be appealed at the VCAT.

Should Council or the VCAT grant a Planning Permit the Architect or Designer must satisfy the Permit Conditions which could involve more details or amendments to the design.

Council must make a decision based on the myriad of tools and approved policies available to it.

You can appeal to VCAT to review a Council decision about a planning permit application.

An objector can do the same.

Filing an Application at the VCAT is a serious matter and it is best to seek professional advice.

The grounds of appeal must be thought through carefully and should be planning based.

Amend a Planning Permit

There are some circumstances where you may need to change your planning permit. A fee is normally applicable. Should the amendment be cosmetic and is mostly internal, Council may make a decision to amend the Permit. IN some cases further public notification may be involved.

Extend the time limit to a Planning Permit

You can submit a request to Council to extend the expiry date on your planning permit. Council will grant at least one extension. They normally will refuse multiple rollover to avoid land banking by developers.

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