Do I need a permit?

A planning permit is a legal document that gives permission for a use or development on a particular piece of land.

A permit may be subject to a time limit or expire under specified circumstances. The responsible authority (usually the local council) may impose conditions when granting a permit.

The local planning scheme will govern whether a planning permit is required to use or develop your land in a particular manner.

When do I need a planning permit?

Some of the most common reasons people require a planning permit are for:

  • constructing or altering a building
  • starting a new use on land (particularly where it may create a demand for car parks)
  • displaying a sign
  • subdividing land
  • clearing native vegetation from land.

Even minor matters may need a planning permit: the onus is on you to find out whether a permit is required.

Check with your local council before proceeding with a change of use or a development on your land. Council can offer advice about local or state government policy guidelines that must be considered for particular developments.

Who decides if I need a permit?

The best way to find out whether you need a planning permit is to contact the planning department of your local council. In most cases your local council is the responsible authority for deciding permit applications.

In some circumstances however, the Minister for Planning is the responsible authority, for example, for certain applications within the City of Melbourne. The schedule to Clause 61.01 of any planning scheme identifies who the responsible authority is for that scheme.

In some circumstances a request can be made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a declaration on whether a proposed use requires a permit.


For further information or advice concerning where the Minister for Planning is the Responsible Authority and Planning Authority you should contact the relevant department office listed at Ministerial permits.

More information 

Page last reviewed on 7 October 2014

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