Planning permits are legal documents that allow you for a certain type of use or development on a specific piece of land. They are used to regulate the use of land and ensure that the character and environment in an area is not negatively affected by the proposed developments.
Failure to secure a planning permit can lead to fines, building and development delays and even bans on land use.
A planning permit should not be confused with a building permit. A building permit generally relates only to the construction aspects of a particular building or development and not to the proposed land use. Any building permit issued, however, must be consistent with the requirements of the planning permit.
So, let’s find out a little more about when you need a planning permit and how to get one.
Do I need a planning permit?
Applying for a planning permit can be complicated and time consuming, so the first thing you will want to do is work out if you even need a planning permit. Planning permits are not always required to use or develop land or for construction, extensions or alterations to single dwellings.
Typically, planning permits apply to constructing a new building (as opposed to a single dwelling), changing an existing building design, altering a heritage-listed property, subdividing land, clearing land of native vegetation or even erecting a sign on the land.
Essentially, the first step will always be working out whether you need a planning permit. And that means talking to the relevant authority.
- Discuss your proposal with local council
As your local council will be the body granting the permit approval, it’s important to speak to the relevant council department before starting your application. Many councils offer pre-application meetings to help make the process easier.
Discuss your proposed application with a council planning officer. They can then advise you if you need a permit or if your proposal is outright prohibited. If you need to continue with the application process, they can explain what information needs to be included in your application, what regulations or policies must be adhered to, any guidelines or provisions to be addressed and any other authorities that must be consulted.
- Talk with neighbours
While the land may be your own, changes and developments can affect those around you. Speak with neighbours early on to hear their concerns.
By talking with them sooner rather than later, you can adjust your plans as necessary before requesting a permit. While you may not be able to make changes that will suit everyone, it’s important to try to accommodate those around you.
Your neighbours may also have useful information that could affect the feasibility or practicality of your plans.
- Talk with a professional
If you aren’t experienced with the planning process, it can be helpful to talk with a professional. For instance, town planning consultants can work with you to ensure your application has the greatest chance of being approved.
When choosing a professional, ensure they have relevant experience and expertise. They should be knowledgeable about the local council’s requirements. Ask about previous projects they’ve worked on and don’t be afraid to ask to speak to previous clients.
- Prepare the application
Visit your local council’s website to find the correct application form. You can also visit the council in person and ask for assistance if needed.
The information required will vary depending on the council and the proposal; however, some requirements are typical for all permits. For instance, you will need to have a clear description of the project, as well as the estimated cost. If you don’t own the land, you need to provide the owner’s details. You also need to provide a current Certificate of Title. Don’t forget any additional information the council has specifically requested, like floor plans or an environmental assessment.
- Lodge the application
With the application form completed and relevant documentation provided, you can lodge the application. Don’t forget to include the required fee, along with a current mailing address and phone number.
At first glance, the planning permit process can seem confusing, but it’s really quite simple. If you’re ever in doubt about what to do, talk to your local council or a professional.