The planning permit process

A building development or renovation project can be an exciting but stressful time. If you are considering doing any building works, want to change the way your property is used, or erect an advertising sign it is likely you will require Council approval.

You obtain approval by completing the Planning Permit process. 

We have made a simple guide to help step you through the process to successfully submit your project to Council for assessment.

Planning and building permits are different

Planning permits and building permits are not the same thing. They are controlled by different laws and regulations.

This means that you may need a planning permit, a building permit, or both - depending on your proposed development or land use. 

If your project does require a planning permit, you must have the planning permit before a building permit can be issued.

What is a planning permit?

A planning permit is a legal document giving permission for a land use or development. 

This development or use could be anything from demolishing or extending your house or removing a tree in your garden to running a business from home or getting a liquor license for a bar.

Planning is essentially about making decisions that affect the environment and everyday life. Planning decisions take into account the impact a new building or land use will have on the neighbourhood and neighbours. These decisions might be about the location of a new restaurant, the removal of trees or building a new house in an area at risk of bushfire.

Council's Planning Services team implements and enforces the statutory planning responsibilities of the Nillumbik Planning Scheme. Council refers to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and the Nillumbik Planning Scheme when we make planning decisions.

What is a building permit?

Building permits are controlled by the Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2018. A building permit ensures the building is structurally safe, stable and complies with regulations.

All building work requires a building permit, unless there is an exemption for the proposed work under the Regulations. This includes some minor alterations, demolitions and repair or maintenance work.

A building permit will specify that either an occupancy permit is required or a certificate of final inspection is required when the building work is completed.

The information on this page relates to planning permits, not building permits.

See Council's Building services section for information on building permits.


The planning permit process - an overview

Planning permit process overview

Step 1.Check if you need a planning permit

  • Find out when you need to obtain approval
  • Check your zoning and planning controls, certificate of title
  • Approval exemptions

Find out more about why planning permits are required

Step 2.Request a pre-application meeting

  • When and why you may require a pre-application meeting
  • What to submit as part of the request
  • How to arrange a pre-applicaiton meeting and what to bring

Find out more about requesting a pre-application meeting

Step 3.Prepare and submit your application

  • Checklists and fees
  • Registering for online services
  • VicSmart applications

Find out more about preparing and submitting your planning application

Step 4.Preliminary assessment

  • Your application undergoes an initial assessment

Find out more about the assessment process

Step 5.Advertising

  • Applications become public information and may be advertised
  • You can view current and past planning applications
  • Check your application status

Find out more about advertised planning applications

Step 6.Final assessment and outcome

  • Council makes a decision on your application
  • Notification of decision

Find out more about planning application outcomes

Step 7.VCAT appeals

  • How to appeal a decision

Find out more about appealing a planning permit decision


The approval time for applications differs depending on the complexity of your application. If we need to notify your application, it may take up to two months for approval. This time frame may increase if we need to;

  • ask for more information,
  • if we receive representations from notified parties,
  • or if the application needs to be assessed by the Council Assessment Panel.

Viewing planning applications

Council's online planning application register allows users to search current and past planning permit applications.