When Is A Planning Permit Required?

When is a planning permit required?

When you build or renovate your dream home, it’s safe to say there are a lot of things to consider. But one of the most important steps is to research if you need a planning permit from the local council. Why? Some councils, for example, have overlay restrictions no matter the location of your home in its neighbouring area.

If you’re unsure about what this process looks like, allow us to walk you through it.

What is a planning permit?

A planning permit is a legal document that allows you to use or develop a specified area of land. Its purpose is to protect you and ensure everything is carried out above board.  

The permit maps out the conditions of use that must be followed, plus a set of plans. Building regulations and codes must be met to construct any type of structure, no matter its size. If your design falls outside any of the required codes, then you will need to apply for approval from the council. There may be penalties if you don’t adhere to the conditions that are outlined in your approval permit.

A planning permit isn’t the same as a building permit, as the former is required before the build. In other words, you need to be granted a planning permit before any work is carried out. If a planning permit is approved, then a building permit is required for construction to take place.

Both are an important part of the building process, but the planning permit is the first approval you’ll need. Allow time for this process as it can be lengthy, depending on the type of construction you’re proposing and the regulation you require approval for.

When is a planning permit needed?

A planning permit is needed by law where the land is being built on, developed or changed dramatically.

 This could include: 

  • Building a new property
  • Knockdown and rebuilds
  • Townhouse developments
  • Multi-level apartment builds
  • Considerable renovations such as adding another storey to a house
  • Demolition
  • Major tree removal
  • Retaining wall construction
  • Altering or painting a building
  • Carrying out exterior works to a property located within a Heritage Overlay
  • Constructing a tennis court or pool 

Some exemptions for not needing a permit may apply, but this is generally not the case for residential builds in major Australian cities such as Melbourne.

The planning permit process

Preparing for application 

When preparing to apply, it’s best to speak to your new home builder and local council planning department to get as much information as you can. After all, knowledge is power. They can help guide you through the process and let you know if your application is likely to be accepted. 

That’s why it’s important to engage a builder who has years’ worth of knowledge and experience in your local area. They will be able to help you with your design and work within the regulations and codes of the council’s parameters. 

You may also need to engage other professionals to prepare reports that can assist with your application. 


The planning permit application is submitted to your local council, outlining the intent of the project and the overall design. Drawings are often required during this stage to give the council a better idea of how the land will be used. 

Council and Community Review

Once the application has been submitted, the council reviews it. It is also advertised publicly for 14 days so that neighbours and those in the local area can see it. They can object if they think the development will impact negatively on their property or the local area. Reasons for objections could include concerns around privacy, safety and traffic. 

Application Decision

Once the application has been reviewed and advertised, your council’s planning department will make its decision. Your permit will either be granted or denied – if it’s the latter, you can re-submit your application with the recommended amendments to your design. 

There are also appeal options available. In Victoria, this is handled by VCAT – an application for review must be lodged within 21 days from when the decision was made. 

But if your permit has been accepted, then congratulations! It’s time to get started on the exciting parts of the build. 

Over 20 years of experience 

For over two decades, Ramsay Builders has provided our clients with the finest residential building and construction services in southeast Melbourne. We are well-versed in the planning permit requirements of many local councils and can guide you through the process from start to finish.


Get in touch with our expert team today and start planning your dream home.

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