Undertaking a planning project
If you're undertaking a planning project in Towong Shire, you need to understand how the process works and what your responsibilities are.
Whether you need a permit for your proposed land use and/or development will depend on:
- the zone your land is in
- whether any overlays apply to your land
- whether the development is subject to any particular provision.
In each zone, some land uses can be conducted without a permit, some need a permit, and others are prohibited. The category into which each use falls directly relates to the primary purpose of the zone. For example, use of land for a dwelling in a residential zone doesn’t need a permit.
Sometimes, even though the use may not need a permit, the development associated with the use, like the construction of a building, some earthworks, clearing native vegetation or creating an access to a highway, may require a permit.
To find out whether you need a permit, we hightly recommend that you meet with our Planning Officer while you’re developing your proposal.
They’ll also be able to help you work out:
- whether the proposal is consistent with State and local policies
- whether the proposal meets the relevant controls
- what supporting information will be required for Council to assess your application.
You can contact our planning department on 1300 365 222 or email@example.com.
Obtaining a planning permit can take as little as a few days or up to a number of months, depending on the complexity of the proposal.
The Victorian planning system ensures that people affected by a planning decision have the opportunity to give feedback before the decision is made.
If we believe your proposal may impact other people, like your neighbours, we may ask you to advise them about your proposal.
If notification is needed, we'll let you know what form it needs to take (for example, a mailed notice, a notice placed on the site, or a notice in the local paper). If we provide notification on your behalf, fees will be applicable.
Surrounding landowners may lodge objections in response to the notification. These objections must state how they believe the proposal will affect them.
We will notify objectors if the matter goes to a public meeting.
We must take into account any objections when we consider your application. We may ask you and the objectors to participate in a mediation process to resolve any concerns before determining the application.
We may also send your application to other agencies, such as the Department of Environment and Primary Industries or VicRoads, for advice or direction. These are called referrals.
In some cases, referrals are dictated by the planning scheme. Even when this isn't the case, we may choose to send your application to another agency if we believe it may impact on their interests or the agency may be able to provide us with advice.
The agency response may include a requirement that certain conditions be included on any permit granted. In some cases, it may require that we refuse the application.
Assessment of the application
In assessing your application, our Planning Officer 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.
They will prepare a report describing:
- the proposal
- relevant policies and planning scheme requirement
- the assessment process
- any objections and referral comments and the response to them.
They will then make a recommendation about whether or not a planning permit should be granted.
If no objection is standing, a senior officer of the Council may make a decision to grant a planning permit under delegation, rather than it being decided by the full Council. A decision made under delegation is usually quicker because it doesn't need to wait for a Council meeting.
Where applicants or objectors disagree with our decision, they can lodge an appeal with the Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal (VCAT).
Rights of appeal are summarised on the notice of decision that is mailed to all parties. For more information, visit the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal website.
Planning in Towong Shire must comply with the Towong Planning Scheme and building policies. We may take action if you breach any of these regulations. This may include investigating building works and demolitions conducted without the appropriate planning permits.
Development compliance issues
The following are examples of development compliance issues:
- building works conducted without a planning permit, including changes to a property (such as a house extension or demolition) carried out without the required planning permit approval from Council
- building works inconsistent with the approved planning permit or endorsed plans, for example, landscaping works that are not carried out as required on permits issued
- alterations and changes to wall heights, materials and colour finishes where specified
- relocations of plant and equipment
- illegal use of a property or use inconsistent with planning permit conditions, for example:
- where native vegetation has been removed
- a shed is used for accommodation
- conditions specifying hours that a business can operate are not adhered to
- changes of use of land, without planning approval, where approval is required
- heritage: works carried out to a property affected by a heritage overlay without prior planning approval.
Options available to Council
Where possible, we'll negotiate with all parties involved. However, if a resolution is not achieved, we may issue a Planning Infringement Notice (PIN) under the Planning & Environment Act 1987.
A PIN attracts a fine. You may also be required to put measures in place to resolve the matter.
Other forms of action include:
- applying to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an enforcement order, which will require certain actions from the owner of the property
- proceeding to prosecution in the Victorian Magistrate's Court
- cancellation or amendment of a planning permit.