Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a planning permit and a building permit? 

The planning permit and building permit systems operate under different legislation – the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and the Building Act 1993 - and are two very different processes.

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.

Planning permits are the approval of "what" you wish to do and "where" you want to do it. They give approval for the use and/or development of land for a specific proposal.

  • Planning permits are issued by local Councils
  • Planning permits ensure the development complies with local and State Government regulations
  • Planning permits give authorisation for a use or development on a particular piece of land.

Building permits authorise the construction or alteration of a building/s, focusing on its structural safety and amenity.

  • Building permits are issued by local Councils or a private building surveyor
  • Building permits approve and allow building projects to proceed
  • Building permits ensure the building regulations are followed
  • Building permits ensure key structural stages of the project are independently inspected.

When both a planning permit and a building permit are required for a proposal, then the planning permit must be approved and issued before the building permit can be. The building permit must be consistent with the planning permit.

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 planning property report at VicPlan.

Can I build on 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. To find out what controls apply to your property you can obtain a free property report at VicPlan, or purchase a Certificate of Title or Planning 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.

Where further information is required, you can use this form to seek advice from a planning officer. While it is not our 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 our Planning Team to adequately research and provide an informed response. The more detail provided allows our staff to provide you with better advice.

These services are free of charge. If you require further information, please contact us or book an appointment online.

What is a Certificate of Compliance?

 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

Any person may apply to the responsible authority for a Certificate of Compliance pursuant to Part 4A of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

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; or
  • 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.

For more information, see application forms

Who can help me prepare my planning permit application?

Our role in the planning permit process is to assess applications and we are therefore limited with the amount of help we can provide about how an application should be "put together". We recommend you engage suitably qualified people such as a planning consultant, an architect, a draftsperson, or licenced 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. 

Is there a fee to make a planning permit application? 

Application fees vary according to the application type and value of works and are statutory fees which are set by the Victorian Government. See the Planning permit fee schedule(PDF, 74KB).

How long will a decision on my application take?

We process planning permit applications as quickly as possible and our Planning Team is mindful of the time and financial pressures that applicants are often under. Each application is unique so it is difficult to give specific timelines for how long it will take to make a decision on your application. Some applications need to be advertised to your neighbours and if objections are received, and not resolved through consultation, the application will go before Council for decision. This process will typically take more time than what might be required if objections are not received.

Essentially, there is no time limit for a decision to be made as there is a strict process for assessing planning permit applications set by the Victorian 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. You do need to plan ahead and allow enough time for the permit process to occur prior to commencing works.

We have produced a fact sheet(PDF, 287KB) which gives some guidelines on how long an application may take. 

How is a decision made?

Our Planning Officers assess each planning application in accordance with the planning scheme as well as local policies, Council strategies and guidelines.

Significant weight will also be given to the following:

  • Whether the proposal is consistent with the purpose of the zone in which the land is situated
  • Whether the proposed use or development maintains or enhances the character of the neighbourhood (for example, that the design and scale of buildings is consistent with others in the area)
  • Whether the amenity of adjoining properties is maintained - for example, by minimising overshadowing, overlooking, noise, traffic and parking impacts
  • Whether a proposed new development achieves a high standard of urban design.

It is important for applicants and their representatives to understand the special characteristics of Indigo Shire's individual neighbourhoods and to ensure that developments respond to and reinforce these characteristics.

We embrace a consultative approach to the planning process. This may involve applicants, objectors and Councillors in meetings where everyone involved can discuss the proposal, identify concerns and have the opportunity to improve outcomes for all participants.

Can a planning decision be appealed?

If your application is refused or there are objections, an application for review of the decision may be made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) - 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.

Applicants must lodge their applications to VCAT within 60 days of decision and objectors within 21 days, using the forms available from the VCAT website. The application for review must be submitted on the official form and accompanied by the prescribed fee. However, prior to doing this you are encouraged to contact our Planning Team before lodging an appeal and discuss the matter.

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.

Can my planning permit be extended?

Information on the back of a permit or a condition on your planning permit will set out the time period in which the use or development needs to be commenced and/or completed. The permit will expire if this time limit is exceeded. An extension of time to commence can be applied for before the permit expires or within six (6) months afterwards.

An extension of time to complete a development can be applied for before the permit expires or within 12 months after the permit expires. An extension of time will normally only be considered once. If a permit has already been extended, it may be necessary to apply for a fresh permit. You can apply for an extension(PDF, 36KB)

Can I amend a planning permit?

Planning permits consist of the permit and the approved plan(s). Under some circumstances, changes to the permit or the plan(s) or both can be considered by Council.

An application to amend a planning permit (and/or the endorsed plans) is processed in the same way as a planning permit application. A decision will be made whether the proposed amendment is likely to impact on any other property. If this is likely, we may require public notification of the application.

The decision-making process and appeal rights are the same as for a standard planning permit application. See 'Application forms'.           

What is ResCode?

Residential development within Victoria is controlled by residential development provisions and tools commonly known as ResCode. See ResCode(PDF, 39KB) fact sheet for a more in-depth explanation. 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 and Planning.

Where can I view planning files?

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 us.

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. For information on how to obtain a copy of title and apply, visit Landata.      

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 our Assets Team, 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 1987 requires us to advertise an application to neighbours and other interested parties if we think they might be adversely impacted by what is proposed. This allows people to make a written submission to us so we 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 surrounding 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. 

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. 

Where can I get a copy of my title? 

A Certificate of Title should 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 obtain a copy of title and apply, visit Landata.      

What is a title restriction? 

A title restriction may include a covenant, section 173 agreement, or caveat. A covenant is imposed by the developer of the estate in which your land is located. A planning permit is required to vary a covenant and you should consult with planning officers prior to proceeding further down this path. A section 173 agreement is a legal contract made between us and another party or parties, made under Section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. A section 173 agreement generally requires someone to either carry out, or not carry out, any matters specified in the agreement. A full copy of title and any restrictions are required to be lodged with each planning application. 

What does it mean if my permit has conditions? 

All planning permits will be accompanied by conditions. These conditions will include matters specific to the permit sought. Examples of conditions may include the time frame in which the development/use must be commenced or completed, amenity, car parking provision, engineering requirements and/or other relevant matters. Please read these conditions carefully as you are responsible for compliance with these conditions. If you are unclear with the intent of a condition imposed on your permit, please contact our statutory planning team.