Planning FAQs

Building-1 Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions and their answers related to planning.

What is planning?

 Planning is concerned with the use of land, ensuring that land is well managed taking into account the needs of the community and the environment.

 It involves looking at what transport is needed, what land can be used for (houses, shops, factories, parks), the size and type of buildings and landscaping.

 There are not many things that owners can do to their land that will not affect others in some way - that is why some regulation is needed.

 There are a number of ways that you may get involved in local planning decisions. Most commonly it will be because:

  • You may need a planning permit – for example if you want to extend your house; or
  • You are given the opportunity to comment on someone else’s application for a planning permit – for example you may disagree with your neighbours plan to build units and make an objection.

For more information about planning, please refer to the Understanding Planning in Yarra fact sheet.

pdf format Understanding Yarra Planning (533.01 KB)

 


Do I need a permit?

 The Yarra Planning Scheme consists of zones, overlays and other provisions which affect whether a permit is required.

 Generally, permits are required for:

  • Changing the use of your property (eg. shop to office, café to retail)
  • Additions to residential properties
  • Commercial or industrial development
  • Applying for a liquor licence
  • Constructing or displaying signage
  • Waiver of car parking (associated with the increased floor space of commercial/industrial areas)
  • Demolition of a building (particularly within heritage overlay)

Two-thirds of Yarra is covered by a heritage overlay, in which a planning permit is required for all works and demolition (including painting and fences).

The best way to find out if you require a planning permit is to contact Council on 9205 5555. 


Do I need a planning or building permit?

Planning permits and building permits are different. This means that you may need one or both depending on your proposed work.

If you require both permits, you must get the planning permit before applying for the building permit – just because you have a planning permit does not mean that you can start construction without first getting a building permit.

Generally, planning is concerned with the land – the way it will be used and/or developed, whereas building is concerned with the actual construction – its quality and its safety.

There are a number of different factors that influence what type of permit you require. The best way to find out is to call Council on 9205 5555.


Where can I find out about what planning regulations apply to my property?

 Each individual property has a set of planning controls which specify when a planning permit is needed. To find out what controls apply to your property you can:

  • Obtain a free property report, or purchase a Certificate of Title or Planning Certificate at www.land.vic.gov.au
  • View planning scheme maps at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planningschemes (select ‘Yarra’ from the drop down menu)
  • View planning scheme maps in person at the Richmond Town Hall (333 Bridge Road Richmond) during normal business hours.  

How does heritage overlay effect what I can do to my property?

Two thirds of Yarra is covered by a heritage overlay. A heritage overlay is applied to any place that has been formally recognised on the heritage register or in local heritage studies.

Each overlay area has a statement of significance that describes the place and lists the important elements, such as building style, landscaping or streetscape. What is listed in the statement of significance affects what you can do to your property.

Under the heritage overlay, a planning permit is required for:

  • Subdivision or consolidation of land
  • Demolition or removal of part or all of a building
  • Construction of a building or fence
  • Altering the outside of a building
  • Carrying out works to the property
  • Constructing or displaying a sign
  • Externally paint an unpainted surface, and if painting any external surface constitutes and advertisement

In some cases, external paint controls, internal alteration controls and control over trees may also apply. The best way to find out how a heritage overlay affects your property is to call Council on 9205 5555.

pdf format Overlays Fact Sheet (582.06 KB)


How long will my permit take?

Council seeks to process planning permit applications as quickly as possible and is mindful of the time and financial pressures that applicants are often under.

Realistically, depending on the size and detail of the proposed works, it can take anywhere from four weeks for small applications to many months for large scale applications.

There is a strict process for assessing planning permit applications which is set by the State Government. The more steps that the application needs to pass through, the longer the assessment will take.

To ensure that your application can be processed quickly and efficiently, it is essential that all the relevant information is included. Refer to Council’s planning guides and checklists to make sure your application is complete.

For more information about the steps in the planning permit process, please refer to the Overview of the Planning Process fact sheet.

 pdf format Planning Permits Overview (463.24 KB)


How do I lodge a planning permit application?

The information you will need to include in your application will vary depending on what you are seeking a permit for, however generally you must include:

  • A completed ‘Application for a Planning Permit’ form
  • A current copy of your Certificate of Title (obtained within the last three months)
  • Payment of application fee (cheque or money order only)
  • A description of what the permit is for
  • Estimated cost of the works
  • Copies of plans and any other additional information.

Please refer to Council's Planning Guidelines and Checklists page for more detailed information on what needs to be submitted.

 Applications can be lodged:

  • In person: at the Statutory Planning counter, Richmond Town Hall (333 Bridge Road Richmond) between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday.
  • By mail: to Statutory Planning Branch, City of Yarra, PO Box 168, Richmond Victoria 3121.  

What is the planning permit process?

The planning permit process consists of the following stages:

  • Preparing and lodging an application
  • Council checks the application (further information and referrals are sought if necessary)
  • Public notification/advertising (a minimum of 14 days notice is given and objections may be received)
  • Community consultation meeting (if deemed necessary)
  • Council officer prepares a report and recommendation
  • Decision is made
  • Review by VCAT (if required)

This is a strict process which is set by the State Government. The more steps that the application needs to pass through, the longer the assessment will take.

 For more information about the steps in the planning permit process, please refer to the Overview of the Planning Permit Process fact sheet.

 pdf format Planning Permits Overview (463.24 KB)


Plans are usually drawn up by an architect or draftsperson, however you may feel comfortable to prepare the plans yourself.

Do I need an architect to draw my proposed plans?

If preparing the plan yourself, please ensure that it shows all the required information and is drawn to scale.


Do I need to provide existing conditions drawings?

The need for existing conditions drawings depends on the type of permit you are seeking.

In heritage overlay areas particularly, a permit is required for demolition therefore existing and proposed conditions drawings are required so we can properly assess the proposed impact of all works.

Please refer to Council’s planning guides and checklists for more detailed information on what needs to be submitted.


 Can I submit photos instead of elevation drawings to show the existing conditions?

It is always helpful to provide photographs that provide some context to your application by showing the surrounding area, however they cannot be used as a substitute to elevation plans.

We require scaled drawings in order to accurately assess the impacts of a proposal.


 How do I check the status of my permit application?

A list of past and current planning applications can be viewed by using the planning application search function on Council’s website. The ‘Decision’ column shows what stage your application is up to. This search function is updated each night.

Correspondence from Council’s planners will keep you updated as your application progresses through each stage of the assessment process.


 Where can I view planning files?

A list of past and current planning applications can be viewed by using the planning application search function on Council’s website.

Planning files can be viewed in person at the Statutory Planning counter at the Richmond Town Hall (333 Bridge Road Richmond) from 8.30am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.
 


How do I object to a planning permit application?

Objections can be lodged with Council any time up to when a decision is made, however objections are usually lodged during the 14 day period which the application is advertised.

To lodge and objection you need to either:

  • Complete an Objection to a Planning Permit form 

     pdf format Planning Permit Objection Form (20.61kB)

  • Write a letter or email, which includes your name and contact details (including address), the planning application number, address of the property in question,  and a statement of how the proposal will affect you.

You can lodge your written objection by:

  • Post: to Statutory Planning Branch, City of Yarra, PO Box 168, Richmond Victoria 3121.
  • Email: to planningadmin@yarracity.vic.gov.au please clearly state ‘objection to (insert planning application number)’ in the subject line.
  • In person: at the Statutory Planning counter, Richmond Town Hall (333 Bridge Road Richmond) between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

For more information on how to make an objection, please refer to the Responding to a Planning Permit Application fact sheet.

pdf formatResponding to a Planning Permit Application (416.60 KB)


Why do I have to attend a community consultation meeting?

Council will call a community consultation meeting if a number of objections have been lodged against a planning permit application and it feels that there is a good chance that a meeting can resolve some issues raised.

If you are the permit applicant, it is beneficial to attend because you can explain you application clearly to objectors who may not understand properly, or you may be able to negotiate changes that will result in the withdrawal of objections.

If you are an objector, it is beneficial to attend because you can discuss your concerns with the permit applicant and may be able to negotiate some changes to relieve your concerns.


What is VCAT?

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is a State Government appointed panel of experts that independently reviews planning decisions made by councils. VCAT conducts public hearings and considered submissions made by all parties before making a decision.

For more information about who can lodge an appeal against a decision with VCAT and how to go about it, please refer to the Planning Proceedings at VCAT fact sheet.

pdf format Planning Decisions at VCAT (497.11 KB)


I was issued a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit, I have rung VCAT and no appeal has been lodged, can Council issue my permit immediately?

Council cannot issue a permit until we have received written notification from VCAT stating that no appeals have been lodged.


Can I subdivide my property?

Because Yarra is already a densely developed municipality, most subdivisions, particularly those in residential areas, are tied to a planning permit for a development.

In most instances you will be required to apply for a planning permit for the development (for example, the construction of a second dwelling on a lot) before applying to subdivide the land.

This is done to make sure that no subdivisions can occur that leaves the owner of the new parcel of land later unable to develop it because it is unsuitable for a building.

If the planning permit is approved for the development, subdivision is normally a straight forward process and will be dealt with as a separate permit application.

For more specific information about subdivision, please contact Council on 9205 5555 and ask to speak to the Subdivisions Planner.

pdf format Subdividing Checklist (401.86 KB)


Is there a minimum lot size required for subdivision?

The Yarra Planning Scheme does not specify a minimum lot size. However, as noted above, in most instances it is the approved development that justifies a subdivision.

This is done to make sure that no subdivisions can occur that leaves the owner of the new parcel of land later unable to develop it because it is unsuitable for a building.

As a result, the dimensions of the subdivision will be determined by the layout of the development that has been approved for the site.

 For more specific information about subdivision, please contact Council on 9205 5555 and ask to speak to the Subdivisions Planner. 


I have a planning permit, but I have changed my mind, can I change my permit?

Planning permits consist of two documents: the permit and the approved plan(s) – you can make changes to the permit or the pan(s) or both. You can also apply to have the length of your permit extended.

 The way you apply for an amendment to a permit depends on the way the permit was issued. For more information, please refer to the Changing of Extending a Planning Permit fact sheet.

pdf format Changing a Planning Permit (649.10 KB)


I have been issued a permit, but Condition 1 of the permit specifies that I have to have plans approved by Council. I have the plans ready, can they be approved over the counter?

No, a planner cannot approve plans over the counter. Three copies of the plans must be submitted to Council and will be allocated to a planner who will determine if they satisfy the permit and include required changes. Once we approved the plans, we will keep one copy and send the other two out to you.


Further information
Statutory Planning Branch 
9205 5373
info@yarracity.vic.gov.au

 

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