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Design & Town Planning company: Think outside the square to maximise property subdivision yield. Free site analysis.

Town Planning

Subdivision Town  Planner +  Architecture

  AuArchitecture is a  Town Planning  and Design Practice. We think  outside the square to
                        maximise your property's subdivision potential.
              Free Site assessment. Can you subdivide your property?

Design & Town Planning company: Think outside the square to maximise property subdivision yield. Free site assessment by subdivision specialists.

 We are trained in Architecture and Town Planning- and that makes a difference when it boils down to problem solving at planning meetings. Most town planners are not trained in drawing and hence might struggle to articulate a design solution on paper.

We can provide those critical design solutions on the run- backed up by our Town planning knowledge- our Founder having managed 250+ planning approvals!

AuArchitecture has the competitive edge

AuArchitecture is led by a Registered Planner who is supported by Registered Building Practitioners and Registered Architects.

The combined experience and knowledge will deliver project efficiencies and  creativity while understanding and implementing  Council's not negotiable  planning standards.

A typical Town Planning Application Timeline
TP Workflow

AuArchitecture's Founder is a Registered Planner and affiliated with the Australian Institute of Architects, Planning Institute of Australia and Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association. 

This collective synergy gives us the competitive edge over competitors, who may only be designers or town planners. That synergy will deliver significant efficiencies and advantages for your project.


Victorian Councils expect a better understanding of their planning policies. Swarup writes compelling town planning reports to garner Council support and personally oversees each application- from site potential assessment to permit winning designs and documentation and effective council negotiations.

AuArchitecture is supported by a team of Registered Architects and Building Practitioners who use the latest Building Information Modelling technology.

And it all starts with a Design Audit.

Only someone with expert design skills and a thorough knowledge of Town Planning metrics can prepare a development  audit for your site. That analysis skill is underpinned by the ability to visualise, draw and implement the planning standards.

You want to know what your property will yield- be it a dual occupancy, a multi unit town house or an apartment project or an extension to a heritage home, a home on a small lot  or a commercial site.

AuArchitecture  can tell you  what you will potentially achieve- not  just with words but with sketch layouts.

We examine the site constraints, titles, covenants, Section 173 Agreements and services maps. All of which decide the site yield.

We implement the local council's planning scheme- which can be complex and deep seated. It sets objectives and standards from setbacks, height controls, amenity impacts,vegetation controls, heritage and much more.

We study the neighbourhood character and ascertain if your local council is rigid or progressive in acceptable design responses.

We take all those regulations into our design solution. That is what Town Planning is all about. Applying the knowledge one has gained through experience.

Want to start the ball rolling? 

Take us for a test drive today.

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Feel free to call Swarup on 0448 170 132

any day- 10am-6pm for a confidential discussion

The next step is Managing and Negotiating a Town Planning Application 

  • AuArchitecture will prepare all Architectural drawings in-house  which form a Town Planning Application.


  • We will present to Council. negotiate objections and respond with design solutions.

  • We write our Planning Reports in-house and co ordinate all other external consultants  whose input maybe required by other Statutory Authorities; like VicRoads, Melbourne Water, CFA and so others.

Town Planning and Design Services Summary

We provide a full management service from lodgement of Town Planning Application for the dual occ, townhouse or unit development  and move on   to responding to Council requests for further information, negotiating with objectors if any and attend VCAT should there be a challenge to granting a decision by an objector.


The workflow for Town Planning can be simply summarised as:


  • Prepare Town Planning documents and reports

  • Submit to your local Melbourne Council

  • Receive acknowledgement of receipt and planning officer name  handling the application

  • Liaise with the planning officer

  • Receive the Request(s) for Further Information (RFI)

  • Respond the the RFI(s)

  • Advertise the Application

  • Manage the objections by phone or meeting

  • Liaise vigorously with Council officers and Councillors as needs be and attend meetings at that higher level

  • A decision is issued by Council

  • VCAT attendance is charged out separately


Our Founder  who will oversee each Town Planning Application has been responsible for and worked to obtain multiple town planning permits from Melbourne metropolitan  and regional Councils including  Banyule, Bayside, City of Ballarat, Boroondara, Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Dandenong, City of Geelong,Hobsons Bay, Hume, Kingston, Knox, Manningham, Maribyrnong, Maroondah, Melbourne, Melton, Monash, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Macedon Ranges Shire,  Nillumbik, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse, Whittlesea, Wyndham, Yarra and Yarra Ranges Planning Schemes.

The Company we keep

We are associated with and ably supported by experienced professionals.


  • VCAT   While we can present submissions and can appear for you at VCAT, we often refer applications to others due to time constraints. These professionals are town planners and planning lawyers who are equally or more experienced than us.

  • Structural Engineers

  • Civil (drainage) engineers

  • Town Planners

  • Architects

  • Registered drafts persons

  • Landscape Designers

  • Land Surveyors

  • Building Surveyors

  • Heritage Consultants

  • Energy consultants

  • Builders

Planning proces

Here is a simplistic workflow which is by no means covers all aspects of the town planning process:

  1. Have your architect or designer prepare a complete set of architectural drawings, including a design response and neighbourhood character study, the floor and roof plans, all elevations, shadow diagrams, overlooking plan, an existing conditions plan incorporating the land surveyor’s feature and level survey and re-establishment survey. Additional drawings could include sections for sloping blocks, the tree protection zone plan, a drawing showing how views are not adversely affected on land burdened by a Design Development Overlay  (DDO) in this respect, a simple site plan without dimensions for land burdened by the Bushfire Management Overlay (or WMO).

  2. Prepare written reports on how the development complies with the standards and objectives of Rescode and the relevant clauses of the planning scheme. It is to your advantage to engage a designer or architect who is familiar with the planning schemes and the individual council’s expectations. An ESD report is becoming a more frequent request by councils across Greater Melbourne.

  3. Other reports would depend on the overlays which burden the subject land. They may include reports by a heritage consultant, a traffic engineer, a bushfire attack level consultant, a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) exemption consultant, an arborist, a flora and fauna consultant, and a hydraulics engineer, to name some. In the typical suburban development, most of these additional reports are exempt, though an arborist and maybe a traffic engineer report is required.

  4. Complete the council’s planning application form and ensure the checklist is satisfied. Submit a recent copy of title, a copy of any covenant or Section 173 agreement if applicable and the application fee. The application fee is as per the current schedule of fees and can range from $1500 and up for a subdivision permit to upwards of $1300 for the development application. The applicant can be the property owner or the architect/designer or town planner who prepares the documents and who will manage the application at council.Building cost over $1.06m attract a Metropolitan Planning Levy.

  5. Council will acknowledge receipt of the application and advise other departments within council and external statutory authorities of the application. These departments and authorities could be anyone from the traffic engineer, Melbourne Water, VicRoads, the CFA, the sewer asset owners and the drainage engineer to name a few. The council officer may request further information (the RFI) within 28 days. The applicant has a minimum of 30 days to respond to the RFI and may request an extension of time in writing. Council may issue more than one RFI.

  6. Council has a right to refuse an application before the RFI is issued if it feels the development is completely inappropriate. However, that is rare.

  7. After the RFI response(s), council will advertise the application by way of written notifications to property owners abutting the subject land, or those council feel may be affected by the proposed development. They may advertise it in the local papers or just require the notification be laminated and erected within the front boundary were it can be easily seen.

  8. Objectors to the development should notify council of their concerns in writing within 14 days.

  9. Council will consider the quality of the objection and determine if they are planning related or purely emotionally based. Quite often, a consultation occurs with the planning applicant, the objectors, the planning officer and sometimes the local ward councillors. I have attended meetings which ran late into the evening. It is better to resolve any planning issues as objectors have a right to challenge council’s decision to grant a permit at the VCAT.

  10. Thereafter, the planning officer will form his or her view on whether to grant a planning permit with conditions and may have the authority under delegation to issue the decision. If there are objections to the proposed development, the officer’s report will be considered by the councillors at a meeting. The councillors will vote whether to support the officer’s report or recommend it be refused or whether further work is required by the applicant.

  11. The planning officer may recommend a refusal and its report and reasons for refusal will be available to the applicant.

  12. As an applicant, you may appeal a refusal at VCAT and have 60 days to do so. As an objector, you may appeal the decision to grant a permit at VCAT within 28 days.

  13. Should council not form a decision within 60 days of the last RFI response, you may appeal the application at VCAT, where your application would be considered as being refused.

  14. As an applicant, you can appeal the conditions to the planning permit at VCAT if you feel they are inappropriate.

  15. Is it better to resolve the concerns at council or do you prefer to stick to your guns and go to the VCAT? The VCAT process involves more fees, can be time consuming and you may need to engage expert witnesses and a planner or planning lawyer to represent the property owner. Having represented property owners at the VCAT and having had success at obtaining permits, I feel it is often better to resolve the issues at council unless council is being absolutely unreasonable.

In summary, the town planning process for property subdivision is complex and best left to experienced professionals.

General residential zoning planning requirements.

A property is attractive to a developer when the zoning, its schedules and overlays are conducive for a fast planning approval.

Each property is governed by its particular zoning- most zoning allow dual occupancy and townhouse developments.


The number of units you will achieve depends on the zoning schedule,  location, aspect (site orientation), proximity to infrastructure, vegetation on and off site, neighbourhood character and site features to name a few.


An experienced planner will consider all these items when providing advice or when writing a planning report. ( see an example of a report we documented below).

The common residential Zoning are Residential Growth Zone, General Residential Zone and Neighbourhood Residential Zone.


Other zones include Township zone and others related to low density or farmland. There are zoning specific to commercial, mixed use and industrial.

The Schedule to each residential zoning specifies certain criteria which should be satisfied- like setbacks, site overage, landscaping, open space type and size and others.


In some instances the  number of units which can occupy the land is specified- these apply to the more restrictive Neighbourhood Residential Zone.

Residential developments must comply with the relevant clauses of the Planning Scheme and in particular the multiple  standards of Clause 55. Apartment projects must satisfy the new and very stringent Clause 58.

Garden Area requirements MUST be satisfied. In the typical development site above 650sqm, the Garden Area must be a minimum of 35%. Smaller lots require 25% or 30% of garden area.


Our experience shows this requirement  really cramps up on the amount of developable land. In many cases we found the 35%  meant losing one unit!

While the trade off for the Garden Area, in theory,  was an increase in height of the building. However, most councils would discourage going above two storeys in the mid to outer ring  outer suburbs as that would go against the Neighbourhood character of the area.

Garden Area requirements do not apply to the  Residential Growth zones.


Parking is a major challenge for developers; as the number of units and number of bedrooms per unit is governed by the number of parking spaces to be provided in the design.


In some instance Councils might vary the parking requirements; however that is not common in the typical townhouse/dual occ type development. Councils traffic engineer's are playing a key role in decision making nowadays.


Visitor parking, open spaces per dwelling and driveway design all chew up valuable developable land. In some zoning schedules, each dwelling must be provided with 80 sqm. of open space (as shown below)  which  is almost the size of the living areas of unit's footprint! Other Schedules might lower the site coverage- or put simply , the size of the building footprint.


An inexperienced designer will make mistakes if they do not understand the implications or the  mandatory requirements of the planning scheme- which is a thick document!


Planning overlays control design, building height, vegetation and  materials  to name a few. A Design Development Overlay (DDO)  example is shown below.  Many properties are not burdened by a DDO. Those affected by a Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO)  will require a BMO consultant's report. Designing in a BMO affected site will require consent from the CFA.


Planning also takes into account any restrictions on the property title, front and boundary setbacks, shadowing impacts on neighbouring lots to name just a few standards we consider when designing any project..

An experienced Town Planner will guide you through the maze of policies each council has adopted. Contact our Registered Planner  for your complimentary advice. What can you build on your land?

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