The permit decision
At the end of the notification period (if the notification was undertaken), the council or responsible authority will decide either to:
- refuse a permit
- grant a permit
- if there are objections, issue a 'Notice of decision' to grant a permit.
A permit can be granted with or without conditions, and a proposal can only go ahead if all conditions are met. For example, a permit for a restaurant might be issued on the condition that a certain number of car-parking spaces are provided. The Writing Planning Permits document below includes standard permit conditions.
The applicant and all objectors (if there were objectors) will be informed of the council's decision via a Notice of Decision, or a Notice of Refusal. These documents will set out the next steps.
Assessment of the application
The council planner prepares a report (generally known as a delegate report) describing the proposal, the relevant policies and planning scheme requirements, the assessment process, any submissions and referral comments, and the response to them. They then make a recommendation about whether or not a planning permit should be granted. The council planner has to judge how well a proposal meets policy objectives in the planning scheme, and they may have to strike a balance between competing objectives.
If your application is listed on a council meeting agenda, you might want to make a short presentation to council in support of your application or objection. With the council planner, discuss if this is possible and appropriate, and find out what notice is necessary for you to speak at the council meeting.
The process is different if your application is assessed as VicSmart, for example, it is not advertised, the assessment time is shorter and the decision is made by the Chief Executive Officer of the council or their delegate. More information about VicSmart
Council may refuse to grant the permit and will issue a notice of Refusal to Grant a Permit. The grounds for the refusal will be listed on the notice. Council will give a copy of this notice to you and all other parties involved in the application process. Information about applications for review to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is printed on the back of the refusal notice.
A council planner may let you know in advance if your application is to be refused. This allows you to make changes to the application that address council's concerns. However, you are not under any obligation to make changes and, sometimes, there is a fundamental difference between what you want to do and the council planner's assessment of the application that can only be resolved at VCAT.
In some instances, the council planner may recommend that the permit is granted but council may refuse the application. Council is not obliged to accept the council planner's recommendation and there are many reasons why it may be overturned.
If your application is refused, you have 60 days from the date that notice of the refusal is given to apply to VCAT for a review of the decision. Lodge an application for review as soon as possible so you get in the VCAT system.
Granting the permit
A permit is nearly always subject to specified conditions that must be met. If there are no objections, council can issue the permit immediately. If there are objections, council can only issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit. All concerned parties will receive a copy of the notice. The Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit does not have the same legal status as a permit. However, it signals council's decision to grant the permit and identifies the conditions to be included on it.
An objector has 21 days to lodge an application for review. If VCAT confirms that no application has been lodged within the 21 days, council will issue the permit. If an objector lodges an application for review within 21 days of the notice being given, council cannot issue the permit. The application will be decided by VCAT.
If council issues a permit, you will receive a copy of the permit and the endorsed plans (unless there is a requirement for the submission of revised plans within the permit conditions). These are important documents and should be kept in a safe place. Don't use the endorsed plans as your working plans.
Permit conditions and expiry
If the permit is granted, you must comply with all of the permit conditions. Check the conditions very carefully and note any that must be complied with before the use or development commences. For example, amended plans may be required, or there may be a condition requiring a landscape plan to be prepared and approved by council. You cannot act on the permit until these conditions have been satisfied and the plans have been endorsed.
Note any conditions about expiry of the permit. Most permits expire two years from the date of issue unless specified times are included as a condition of the permit.
If a permit condition is unacceptable, you have 60 days from the date the permit was issued, or the Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit was given, to apply for a review. Lodge an application for review of the conditions as soon as possible so you get in the VCAT system.
Amending a permit
After a permit is issued, a situation may arise that requires a change to your permit and approved plans. Instead of applying for a new permit, you may be able to apply to council for an amendment to your permit. The request for an amendment to the permit will follow the same process as a new application including possibly advertising and referral of the application.
You should discuss the amendment to the permit with the council planner before submitting your application for an amendment to the permit.
Failure to determine the application
If council fails to make a decision about the application within 60 statutory days, you can apply for a review to VCAT. The 60 days must be calculated in accordance with Regulation 31 of the Planning and Environment Regulations 2005.
If the 60-day limit is approaching, find out from the council planner what the recommendation will be, when the decision will be made, and the reasons for any delay. Reviews against the failure to make a decision are relatively uncommon because council is likely to make a decision before the hearing date at VCAT. However, if a refusal is recommended, it may save you some time in the VCAT system if you have applied for a review under this provision. The appropriate action will depend on the particular circumstances. For more information about applications for review, see VCAT Review.
- Writing Planning Permits (PDF, 209.0 KB, 35 pp.) This document provides advice to council planners who issue planning permits and includes principles and standard conditions.
- Planning practice and advisory notes have been prepared which relate to the permit process and decision-making, as well as specific types of proposals.
- Planning: a Short Guide provides more detailed information about the permit and review processes for occasional users of the planning system.
- Chapter 3 of Using Victoria's Planning System provides detailed information about the permit and review processes.