Understanding Planning Approval vs. Building Approval

Going through the planning process is complicated enough and it is not helped with the raft of approvals that developers have to work through depending on what is being submitted. Development permits, building approval and planning approval – these all can cause confusion as people try to work out what they need and when. Fortunately, there are the professionals who can help with these distinctions, but if you can understand the difference between planning approval and buildig approval, this helps when speaking with your town planning experts.

What is planning approval?

A development permit for planning approval is needed for land approval use, and when indicated by a planning scheme. The planning scheme is part of the local government strategy on land use and development.

When is it required?

A planning approval can sometimes be required depending on the type, scale and extent of the proposed development – for example, changing the land use from industrial to commercial or residential to business. With this planning permit or approval, local governments are able to ensure if a development is appropriate for the area and will have no adverse effects on the community.

What is building approval?

This relates solely to the construction of a building or buildings once the land use has been approved. A development permit for building approval is needed to make sure that what you are building i.e. new construction, is going to be compliant with the applicable industry standards – for example, ensuring that you comply with the Building Code of Australia or BCA.

When is it required?

This can only be applied for once a planning approval for the land use has been received and not before.

What is the process for planning approvals?

Before submitting an application to the local Council, there are several steps to consider. However, this process can be made a lot easier if you speak to your planning experts. You have to find out about the planning scheme to ensure your plans will meet with any chance of success. Then speak to neighbours who will be affected or impacted by your potential plans and talk to the local Council planner.

Next, you need to prepare the application to your local Council, which means ensuring you have all the relevant documentation and plans in place. It also means you need to complete the application process correctly and pay the relevant fee.

Once this happens, the Council will then check your application and they can ask for more information (this will delay your building project) and they may refer it. The plans are advertised so that those who will be affected can put in an objection. These are normally advertised for 14 days and the Council will normally write to neighbours, put up a planning notice on site and may even put a notice in the local paper as well as on their website.

The Council will then assess your proposal, considering objections, referral comments, reviewing against planning strategy and other agencies before deciding on your application. If they refuse, you have the option to a review by VCAT so all in all, this is not a quick process.

What is the process for building approvals?

First of all, it is important to determine what type of development is being undertaken and this is where you can seek help from your town planning experts. The main types of development are assessable and accepted development.

Assessable development approval is needed before you start work on assessable works such as:

  • Demolition of existing property
  • Material change of use of premises
  • Clearing native vegetation
  • Subdivision
  • Drainage and plumbing work
  • Operational work
  • Building work

Accepted development refers to it being accepted and not needing to comply with requirements or codes from the local planning scheme, however, building approval may still be needed so it is important to check this with a building certifier.

Preparing to submit a building approval means collating a number of documents and plans ready to put forward to either a Council or a private building survey. These will include information on how the home or property will be constructed. This must include all the technical information about the project including the types of material which will be used. The information regarding which BCA requirements will be met must also be submitted.

Now that you understand the differences, speak to the experts today who can help support and guide you through the entire process for your development.

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