Frequently Asked Questions - Planning

Planning can be quite confusing. Below is a list of commonly asked questions and their answers:

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 infrastructure 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 a neighbours plan to build units may materially affect you and you may lodge an objection.

The Department of Land, Water, Environment and Planning website provides more information about the planning system.

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

All land within Indigo Shire is given a zoning under the Indigo Planning Scheme. There may also be Overlays on a property, which indicates the land may be in an environmentally significant, heritage or flood area, or prone to bushfires and so on. Each individual property has a set of planning controls that specify when a planning permit is needed. To find out what controls apply to your property you can

  • obtain a free Land Vic Planning Property Reports, or purchase a Certificate of Title or Planning Certificate using the website
  • view planning scheme maps at Indigo Planning Scheme Online
  • view planning scheme maps at Customer Service Centres at 34 High Street, Yackandandah and 101 Ford Street, Beechworth, during normal business hours.

Can I build on my block or the block I want to buy?

To find out if you are able to build a house on a block of land you need to know the zoning of the land and if any overlays apply to it under the Indigo Planning Scheme. See Indigo Planning Scheme & Zone & Overlay provisions. You can obtain this information by either applying to us for a Planning Certificate or obtaining a free Property Report from Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning

Any person may apply to Council for a Certificate of Compliance. There are two types of certificates

  • Form 14, a certificate stating that an existing use or development of land complies with the requirements of the planning scheme at the date of the certificate
  • Form 15, a certificate stating that a proposed use or development (or part of a use or development) of land would comply with the requirements of the planning scheme at the date of the certificate.



Should I make an appointment to see a planner?

Information on this website will help you to determine if you need a Planning Permit. It is also possible to apply for a Certificate of Compliance stating that a proposed use or development would comply with the requirements of the Indigo Planning Scheme.

Where further information is required, you can use this form to seek advice from a planning officer. While it is not a planning officer's role to develop the application or pre-empt a decision, they can provide further advice and guidance on the process.

When making an enquiry it is important to provide full details of your proposal and the land to enable Council's planning staff to adequately research and provide an informed response. The more detail provided allows Council's staff to provide you with better advice.

These services are free of charge.

Who can help me prepare my planning permit application?

Council's role in the planning permit process is to assess applications and is therefore limited with the amount of help it can provide about how an application should be "put together". Council recommends that you engage suitably qualified people such as a planning consultant, an architect or a draftsperson, or licensed land surveyor to help prepare your application.

Do I need an architect to draw my proposal plans?

It often helps if plans are drawn by an architect or draftsperson to 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 at Council, please refer to the Planning application checklist.

What is ResCode?

Residential development within Victoria is controlled by residential development provisions and tools commonly known as ResCode. The residential development provisions are not a separate document - they are incorporated into all Victorian planning schemes and the Victorian Building Regulations.

ResCode provisions are applied through the planning permit or building permit systems, and apply to the construction of new dwellings, alterations and extensions to existing dwellings and residential subdivisions.

The residential development provisions are underpinned by key measures to respect neighbourhood character and amenity, and to ensure environmentally sustainable residential development.

Further information on ResCode is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning.

Where can I view planning files?

Council keeps an electronic register of past and current planning applications. A copy of the register can be viewed at Council's Customer Service Centre at 34 High Street, Yackandandah. Please contact Council's Planning Department to arrange a time for viewing.

Issued planning permits are available for viewing during normal office hours, as are active planning files, however only certain items within an active planning file are available for viewing and photocopying. For further information on what can be viewed and photocopied from the planning files please contact Council's Planning Department.

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 considers submissions made by all parties before making a decision. For further information about VCAT please refer to their website:

What is a building envelope?

Sometimes when land is subdivided a building envelope is placed as a restriction on the title of the land.

A building envelope shows the outline of where buildings can be built, including the setbacks to the property boundaries, what the maximum area of a building footprint can be and can sometimes limit the number of storeys of a building or its total height.

The only way to find out if a building envelope applies to a property is by getting a copy of the title to the land. Please use the link below to read how you can get a copy of title.

If you need to find out more about what a building envelope means to any future plans you have for a property please seek legal advice or use the online enquiry form here.

Can I build over an easement?

Many people have easements on their properties. Building over an easement requires consent from the authority that the easement is in favour of, such as Council's Assets Department, North East Water, or electricity, gas or telecommunications providers.

A drainage easement is the registration on the property title of Council's right of access for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a drain. Generally building over these easements is not permitted because access to the buried pipes may be required for maintenance or renewal.

Will my neighbours be notified of my planning application?

The Planning and Environment Act requires Council to advertise an application to neighbours and other interested parties if Council thinks they will be adversely impacted by what is proposed. This allows people to make a written submission to Council so it can consider their views when making a decision on the application.

Most planning permit applications are advertised by sending written notice, usually to the properties immediately next to and opposite the site. Applicants are sometimes asked to put a sign on the site so others in the area who may have an interest in the proposal also have a chance to put their views forward. Larger, more complex applications or applications for liquor licenses often require a public notice to be placed in local newspapers.

Usually people have a minimum of 14 days to make a written submission, although Council will consider any late submissions up until the time a decision on the application is made.

What is a Focus Meeting?

A Focus Meeting is a consultative meeting involving people who are a party to a planning application, including objector/s, applicant/s, Councillor/s and planning officer/s. It gives all parties the opportunity to discuss the proposal and address concerns about it.

A decision is not made on the application at a Focus Meeting. The applicant may choose to amend the proposal to the satisfaction of objectors who in turn may withdraw their objection. If no middle ground is reached, the application will be reported to Council for decision.

Where can I get a copy of my title?

A Certificate of Title must be provided for each parcel of land included in an application for a planning permit.

Title information confirms the location and dimensions of the land specified in the planning application and any other restrictions affecting what can be done on or with the land. As well as describing the land, a full copy of the title will include a diagram or plan of the land and will identify any encumbrances, caveats and notices.

The title information accompanying your application must include a 'register search statement' and the title diagram which together make up the title.

In addition, any relevant associated title documents, known as 'instruments' (such as Restrictive Covenants or Section 173 Agreements), must also be provided.

For information on how to get a copy of your title, follow the link below.



Last updated: 22 January 2018