Whether you have an upcoming construction plan or a potentially lucrative development concept in the works, it’s important to know about permits, especially the difference between planning and building permits. It’s also crucial to get them ahead of time to prevent any delays. In this article, let’s look at the different kinds of permits and how they work.
Planning permits are legal documents issued by a local council to allow particular pieces of land to be used or developed. They typically involve a set of plans and a written document with conditions that need to be met. Examples of planning permits can include anything from building construction to the subdivision of land.
Planning permits are required before a building permit can be issued; however, both applications can be made simultaneously. A planning permit is not always necessary to begin construction. Yet if in doubt, you should always contact the town planning department as various councils may have different requirements regarding permits. The local council will then ‘endorse’ the submitted plans if all goes well. From there, the plans will have to be followed through accordingly.
One thing of note relating to planning permits is that planning relates to the use and development of land for specific proposals. The planning permit also considers the impact your proposal may have on the site and surrounding environment — loss of privacy, safety concerns, traffic problems, hours of operation, and the impact on water bodies and the natural scenery. Therefore, any proposal must comply with local or state guidelines to get their proposed development or amendment of a specific piece of land authorised.
Planning permit application process
Here’s an overview of the planning permit process from the Victoria State Government’s Environment, Land, Water, and Planning department:
Before making an application:
- Find out about the planning scheme
- Talk to the council planner
- Talk to the neighbours
- Consider getting professional advice
Preparing and submitting the application:
- Ensure you have these ready:
- application information
- application form
After submission of application:
- Council will check and review the application
- The application will be advertised for at least 14 days, usually by letter to neighbours and a sign on-site – this is when objections may be raised
Next, the council will assess the application according to these steps:
- Considers any objections
- Holds mediation meeting if needed
- Considers any referral comments
- Assesses planning scheme provisions
- Negotiates with the permit applicant
- Prepares report
Based on their assessment, the council may issue either:
- A permit with conditions
- A notice of decision with conditions
- A refusal
For more information, contact your local council.
Unlike planning permits that deal with land use, building permits are associated with construction methods. In other words, they ensure that the building or plans comply with regulations and that the building is structurally safe. Therefore, any building permit needs to be consistent with the requirements of the planning permit.
These permits can be done by a private or council-appointed building surveyor who will then certify approval. Not all construction projects or buildings require this type of permit, but any project of significance will need one.
Building permits also ensure that any work carried out follows the proper legislation. They will outline who carries out the relevant inspections and how often they are. They also indicate that a licensed builder is undertaking the work and that the building is ultimately safe.
Towards the end of the project, a certificate of occupancy or a certificate of final inspection will be issued.
How to apply for building permits
According to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), you would need to do the following when you apply for a building permit:
- complete and submit the application form and other prescribed information
- submit at least three copies of drawings, specifications, and allotment plans
- pay the building permit levy yourself or through a person authorised to do so.
You can only submit your application through a building surveyor, so you must appoint one. Alternatively, you can employ an agent to do this on your behalf.
In terms of the levy, it is based on the cost of the building work. For building permit applications accepted by the RBS on or after 1 July 2019, the owner must pay the levy directly to the VBA. Owners must clear all levy fees before a building permit number is provided and the building permit can be issued. For more information, visit VBA’s website.
Once again, it is important to check the relevant authorities and department guidelines regarding any developments you wish you proceed with and what permits you require. Consulting the right town planning companies and planning permission consultants will ensure that your project is in the right hands.