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planning permit



So this is blog number two of the permit series, and it’s all about planning permits. You don’t have to have read the other blogs in the series – four in total – for this one to make sense, but we do recommend reading them all if you get a chance.


By the way, if you would rather watch our video on this topic, click the play button below, otherwise, jump below and keep reading!

YouTube video


We’ve had a lot of experience with permits over the years, and one thing we’ve found with planning permits is that there’s no such thing as one size fits all. It really is a case of every planning permit application being different for a host of reasons – some of which we’ll drill down into in this blog. But the first thing we want to do is recap on something we said in the last blog, and that is that not every site will need a planning permit. Every home needs a building permit, but not necessarily a planning permit.


So let’s back up a bit and consider how the government looks at land.


There are extensive controls that the government has put in place on every single parcel of land, and they generally revolve around two categories. The first one is zones, or the zoning of the land. And the other one is overlays. And it’s mostly the ins and outs of these two categories that will determine whether a planning permit is needed.


See, a very simplistic way of determining if a planning permit will be needed is whether you plan to use the land in the way the zone allows for it. If not – or even if not quite – then it’s likely you’ll need a planning permit.


Just by the way, one feature of a planning permit that’s different to a building permit is that it’s a yes or no type of permit. A building permit can’t technically be refused if the details of the home meet the code and standards. But a planning permit can – and it’s not rare – be refused by the council. In other words, no, you can’t use the land for that particular thing you applied for.


Ok, so what is a zone? This specifies the intended use of the land. Some examples are residential, farming, rural conservation, township, rural living, etc. There are actually a couple of dozen types of zones across the state of Victoria. And under each zone, there are three categories – and this is where it gets a bit technical, so hopefully you can stick with us for a minute here!


The first category, category one, is ‘Permit Not Required’, and this lists out the types of activities that can occur on the land without having to apply for a planning permit. So for a piece of land that’s zoned residential, then building a new home would fall under this first category and a planning permit wouldn’t be needed – unless of course there are other conditions which we’ll discuss shortly.


Category Two is ‘Permit Required’. And this lists out the activities that technically don’t comply with the zone but could be granted or approved through a permit from the council.


And the third category is ‘Prohibited Use’. The items listed under that category are not allowed, and you can’t even apply for a planning permit – it’s just a no go.


So that covers the detail of zones, now let’s look at overlays.


An overlay is as it sounds – the government has overlaid a set of controls on the land. Some examples include a Bushfire Management Overlay – or a BMO, and a Design and Development Overlay – or DDO, etc. The thing about an overlay is it’s not a yes or no regarding the use like a zone is, but a condition or set of conditions that have to be met for you to be able to use it like you want to.


Once again, let’s look at the example of a Bushfire Management Overlay. It’s basically saying that if you’re going to use it for a home and shed, then you need to have a tank available for the fire authority to easily access, with a special type of fitting, certain width driveway, as well as quite a few other specific details. So in this case, these are the set of conditions that have to be met for the planning permit to be approved.


We often see scenarios where a planning permit is needed because of both the zone and one or more overlays. In that case, it’s quite a complex report that needs to be written! Which brings us to the next point – reports.


Lodging for a planning permit generally always involves at least one report. It could be just the report that shows how the proposed build meets the requirements of the zone or overlay. Or it could also need a farm management plan. Or a Bushfire Management report – BMR. But preparing a report and compiling all of the relevant documents is not for the faint hearted – it requires time, management and expertise to tick all of the boxes so the council can hang their hat on it and approve it. It involves working through the objective of the relevant zone and any overlays, and somehow carefully showing how the planned use meets the objectives or why it doesn’t need to meet the objective for various reasons.


It gets quite involved at times. We mentioned in the permit overview blog that planning permits are no longer something for the homeowner to handle on their own – we’ve seen it a number of times where we’ve had to take over a planning permit application to, you might say ‘sort it out’.


One lesson we learnt many years ago is that there’s generally a fairly good reason behind the government’s zoning and overlay rules – although it might not seem like it at times – but if a planning permit is approached in a comprehensive way, then the respect of the planning team at the council will be gained and you’re streets ahead.


Ok, so that’s it from us now, and please make sure you ready the other 3 blogs in this series on permits. The next one is all about building permits.


As always, if you need more information, feel free to reach out to us!


Disclaimer. This blog is our opinion only. The information provided in our blogs is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. The information presented in our blogs is for informational purposes only and we are not professionals, so the content we provide shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. We strongly recommend consulting with a professional before taking any sort of action. We reserve the right to change how we manage our blog and we may change the focus or content at any time.

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