Before you apply for a planning permit

Find answers to a range of frequently asked questions related to planning.

Can I discuss the development potential of a property with a council planner?

Council offers a planning pre-application support service. This allows you to book a meeting with a council planner and gain valuable feedback prior to the application being formally lodged.

For information on how to access this service, see the [Insert links to relevant pages for each Council]


What planning restrictions apply to my property?

Each individual property has a set of planning controls which specify when a planning permit is required. Every application for a planning permit requires you to provide a current Certificate of Title (less than 3months old), which will include details of any obligations affecting what can be done on or with the land. To find out what controls apply to your property, you can:


What zoning applies to the land I am interested in?

Every property is zoned to provide rules as to how the land can be used or developed. A property generally only has one zone.

Common zones include:

  • residential zones (such as the general residential zone, township zone, low density residential zone, mixed use zone, and neighbourhood residential zone, residential growth zone)
  • industrial zones
  • commercial zones
  • rural zones (such as the farming zone, rural living zone, and rural conservation zone)
  • public land zones (such as the public use zone, public park and recreation zone, public conservation and resource zone, and road zone)
  • special purpose zones (such as the special use zone, urban floodway zone and urban growth zone).

Zoning aims to avoid conflicts between different types of land uses and ensures that development is appropriate for an area.

Some properties also have overlay controls. Overlay controls may protect heritage or show areas that require special considerations, like those prone to fire or flooding.

You can confirm the relevant zones here


What are overlays?

Overlays operate in addition to zones. An overlay might seek to achieve certain design and building standards for the land, including:

  • bushfire
  • environmental
  • land management
  • heritage
  • flood issues
  • parking

Not all land is subject to an overlay. If an overlay applies to a parcel of land, it may specify additional requirements in relation to subdivisions, buildings and works, vegetation removal and other matters.

You can confirm the relevant overlays at VicPlan


What does the bushfire management overlay mean for my property?

The bushfire management overlay (BMO) ensures that careful consideration is given to development applications in areas considered a high bushfire risk.

The BMO triggers the need for a planning permit for certain developments and requires that new developments implement appropriate bushfire protection measures.

See the Bushfire Management Overlay for types of development and subdivision that require a planning permit.

Useful information for when preparing your application:


What does the heritage overlay mean for my property?

A heritage overlay (HO) is used to protect sites that have heritage value, meaning that individual buildings or whole precincts may be covered.

Common reasons for needing a planning permit in a heritage overlay, include:

  • subdivide or consolidate land
  • demolish or remove a building (including part of a building)
  • construct a building (including part of a building, or a fence)
  • externally alter a building
  • construct or carry out works
  • construct or display a sign


Do I need an architect or draftsperson to draw my proposed plans?

Council encourages all plans be drawn by an architect or draftsperson and be of a professional standard. Plans must include all the required information and be drawn to scale. 

For further information about the requirements when preparing plans to be lodged, please review these sample plans: [Insert link to sample plans]

Example of existing and proposed site plans(PDF, 134KB)

What is the planning permit application fee?

Planning permit application fees are statutory fees made under the planning and environment (fees) regulations - these fees are not set by Council. The fee must be paid to Council, as the responsible authority, for consideration of a planning permit application. Payment of this fee does not guarantee you will be granted a planning permit. You can find more information about planning permit application fees below:

Planning permit fees

How do I make an application to subdivide my property?

All subdivision applications should be lodged via SPEAR (Surveying and Planning through Electronic Applications and Referrals).

SPEAR is a state-wide, internet-based system for subdivision applications (and associated subdivision planning permits) online.

To lodge an application for a planning permit to subdivide your property, you will need the services of a licensed land surveyor who is a registered SPEAR user.


What is SPEAR and do I need to use it?

Licensed land surveyors use SPEAR to process subdivision applications on behalf of applicants.

The SPEAR system enables subdivision applications to be lodged, managed, referred and approved online.

Applicants can track the progress of their application via the Internet, from lodgement through to approval, certification and to the creation of new land titles.

This is a 'paperless' process between Council, licensed surveyors, referral authorities, VCAT and the titles office, which helps to save time and money for all parties involved. 


When do I need to hire a licensed land surveyor for my subdivision application?

All certification applications and plans lodged pursuant to the Subdivision Act 1988 must be prepared by a licensed land surveyor.

Planning permit applications for subdivision can be complicated and have certain legal requirements.  

It is advised that you engage with a licensed land surveyor to oversee the application process. Their professional skills enable them to manage the complex nature of subdivision.


Are there any easements affecting my property, and can I build on or close to them?

To obtain details of any easements located on your land, check the Certificate of Title, and associated Plan of Subdivision. 

Common easements include drainage and sewerage easements; however, this is not always the case. 

A service authority or any other party may also have “implied easement rights” over the property (e.g. a water asset not specifically covered by an existing easement on the Plan of Subdivision of the title).


Can a planner check my application before I lodge it?

It is recommended in most instances that you seek the assistance of a professional planning consultant, architect, or draftsperson for the application.

Please be aware that Council officers cannot assess a planning application prior to lodgement or provide guarantees of approval prior to formal assessment.