Thanks to the advent of new technologies and Big Data (eg. in the collection, collation and transparent access to governmental data), wading through the quagmire of planning permits is now a much easier process than it was in previous years.
Following a 2011-12 report by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, there has been a greater emphasis put on providing homeowners more power over the building process of new homes or renovations. Homeowners now have the responsibility and power to choose their building surveyors, allowing them to research and find professionals who they can feel comfortable working with. Prior to this, builders were responsible for finding surveyors, which gave their clients less power in terms of associated costs and ownership over their own project.
On top of this shifting landscape for homeowners looking to build or renovate a home, access to important data is beginning to reshape the building landscape for not only homeowners but professional developers as well.
Sites like landchecker.com.au now collate and publish key planning and zone data in easy-to-use visualisations, so that prospective/existing homeowners and developers have immediate access to information regarding their land and what planning/council restrictions apply.
Helping you to quicken the application process for your planning permits, Landchecker immediately shows what zone your property sits within (i.e. General Residential, Mixed Use etc.), what planning overlays apply (i.e. Heritage, Environmental etc.), what areas are bushfire prone, burglary statistics and topography.
On top of this, the site provides you with a visual of all active, processed and cancelled/rejected planning permits, helping you to plan your own application process and identify possible limitations or problems within your own plans that may hinder or slow your planning application.
What is involved in acquiring a planning permit?
If you are acquiring the services of an architect or draftsperson, they can take a lot of the ownership over the process of applying for planning permits. With years of experience, they are often aware of the best ways to expedite the process. However, having access to data such as on Landchecker will give you a greater awareness of what possible restrictions apply to your property or surrounding properties and how your design plans may affect these.
Once you have consulted relevant zoning and planning data, you’re in a position to create your application for a planning permit. In Victoria, your plan is then advertised for at least 14 days before the council makes any assessment on the application. The entire process can take up to several weeks and can even exceed this, which is why it is important to have the relevant data at your fingertips so you don’t trip up on any hurdles.
On your planning permit application, The Proposal provides you with the opportunity to detail your design plans for your renovations or new build. Prior to access to planning, zoning and relevant data, supporting your proposal took considerably more time, which is why a draftsperson or architect was so often relied upon for the process. Knowing what other types of permits in your area have been approved as well as the topographical and zoning nature of your property will allow you to support your proposal with authority.
Having relevant historical permit data also allows you to approach your neighbours with friendly authority and the knowledge that your plans have been previously passed in various forms for surrounding properties. Having your neighbours on your side is one of the most important parts to having your application passed, but having a detailed insight into every single recent permit passed and cancelled will help you identify any concerns neighbours may have.
Note: you may not necessarily be required to apply for a planning permit. Most single dwelling builds only require a building permit and many renovations/additions to an existing home do not necessarily require a planning permit as long as they satisfy certain criteria. These criteria can be viewed here.
However, having a clear understanding of the various restrictions and what sort of zoning applies to your property is key for not just planning permit applications but building permits.