Whitehorse City Council

Planning Permit Process

If residents or business owners in the municipality want to make changes to buildings on their property – such as renovating, installing a fence, erecting an advertising sign or converting a shop into a restaurant – they may need to obtain a planning permit and/or building permit before proceeding.

A planning permit is a legal document that gives permission for use or development of a particular piece of land. To obtain a permit, an application must be made to Council. After considering all aspects of the application, if Council agrees with the proposal, a planning permit can be granted. A permit is subject to a time limit and will expire under specified circumstances. Council, as the responsible authority, is entitled to impose conditions when granting a permit.

The pdf icon  Whitehorse Landscape Guidelines (14.72MB) have been developed to encourage well designed and sustainable landscapes across the City of Whitehorse. The guidelines identify when a landscape concept plan is required and outlines the type and amount of information to be included on the plan, this will assist with the efficient processing of planning permit applications.

There are seven key stages in the planning permit process.  


Stage 1: Pre-application Discussions

Before lodging an application, it is important to find out what planning controls may apply to your property and discuss them with a Council planner. Council encourages you to discuss your proposal with us and escertain its consistency with the Whitehorse Planning Scheme and the information that you'll need to submit with your application.

Matters for potential applicants to consider include:  

  • Find out if a planning permit is required and make sure that what you plan to do is not prohibited
  • Ask for a copy of the Whitehorse Planning Scheme provisions that Council will use to assess the application
  • Ask whether Council is likely to support the proposal, and discuss changes that may be necessary to make the proposal acceptable
  • Talk to your neighbours and find out any concerns they might have. This may save time later, and most appreciate the opportunity to discuss plans before the formal notice process commences
  • Consider getting professional advice. This will help you determine the type and details of information you will need to submit with an application and develop your ideas so they meet Council's expectations and your objectives 


Stage 2: Preparing and Submitting an Application

If a permit is required, fill out an 'Application for Planning Permit' form, provide the required information and pay the stated fee. Council's Planning Department can provide you with a copy of this form. Alternatively, you can download the form by visiting the Planning Documents and Forms of this website. You can lodge the permit application in person at the Whitehorse Civic Centre in Nunawading or submit it by post. You will receive a receipt for the fee paid.

The information that you will need to include will vary depending on what you are seeking a permit for; however, the minimum information that must be submitted is as follows:  

  • Properly completed permit application form
  • Full payment of appropriate application fee
  • Minimum Standard checklist
  • A current and full copy of title (including title plan) and details of any restrictive covenants or other restrictions on the title. This title must have been searched within the last two months (Note: you can obtain a copy of title by searching online at www.land.vic.gov.au or by visiting the Land Information Centre at 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne between 8.30am and 4.00pm Monday to Friday)
  • Properly completed covenant declaration form
  • A cover letter/submission detailing what is proposed and responding to the relevant provisions of the Whitehorse Planning Scheme
  • Three sets of clear and properly drafted site layout and elevation plans generally at 1:100 scale
  • An A3 sized copy of all site layout and elevation plans
  • All the above information also needs to be submitted electronically (USB, CD or email).

Please refer to Council's planning application guides and checklists for specific information about what needs to be included for different types of planning permit applications.  


Stage 3: Preliminary Assessment  

After your application is submitted, you will receive an acknowledgment letter from Council that will list the application number and the planner allocated to consider the application.

As part of the preliminary assessment, the planner will check the application and advise you if more information is required and the timeframe in which to lodge that information. If the information is not provided by this date, the application will lapse.

Once Council's Planning Department receives all the requested further information, the application will proceed to the next stage of the process, which includes consideration of whether or not public notification (advertising) is required.  


Stage 4: Advertising A Planning Application

Once all the required information has been submitted, Council's planners decide whether to undertake public notification/advertising of the application.

If the planners are satisfied that the application will not cause material detriment to any person, the application will not be advertised.

If advertising is required, the Planning Department will issue a written direction to the applicant to advertise the application. The statutory advertising period is for 14 days.

Surrounding landowners and occupiers are notified of the permit application by letter. A notice may also be required to be displayed on the site. In particular circumstances, a notice may also appear in a newspaper that circulates in the area.

Council will require a statutory declaration from the applicant as evidence that advertising has been completed. The application won't be processed further until the advertising has been completed to Council's satisfaction and the statutory declaration returned to Council.

During the advertising period, interested parties may view the permit application documents free of charge at the Whitehorse Civic Centre in Nunawading between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Copies of documents will attract a fee.  


Stage 5: Community Participation

During the advertising period, the community is able to comment on what is proposed before Council makes its decision. Any comments received are called submissions and those that oppose a proposal are known as objections. Council must consider all submissions received when it makes its decision.


Stage 6: Assessment of the Application (the Decision)

Council's Planning Department prepares a report describing the proposal, the relevant policies and planning scheme requirements, the assessment process, any objections and the response to them.

Presentation to Council

As an applicant or person making a submission, you may want to make a short presentation to Council in relation to the permit application. You can make a three-minute long presentation at Council's Special Committee Meetings. The presentation must be arranged through Council's Civic Service Department and must be in accordance with the relevant guidelines.

Please note, a permit will not be refused just because objections have been received. Council has to decide the merit of the objections and weigh up a number of planning considerations before it makes its decision.

The Decision

If the application is for a major project, or there are a certain number of objections, the application may be decided at a full Council Meeting. However, in accordance with Council's Instrument of Delegation, Council may make the decision under delegation. This means Council's planners make the decision rather than it being decided by the councillors. A decision made under delegation is usually quicker because the application does not have to wait for a council meeting.

If Council decides to grant a permit, and there are objections, Council can issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit, but cannot issue the permit until the time for appeals.html to VCAT has passed and none have been lodged.

Notice of the Decision

The permit applicant and the objectors will receive a copy of the Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit. The notice will include all the conditions the applicant must comply with, and will identify the plans to be endorsed as part of the permit. The notice does not have the same legal status as a permit, but instead signals Council's decision to grant the permit and identifies the conditions to be included on the permit.

Objectors have 28 days from the date the notice of the decision was given to lodge an application for review at VCAT. If VCAT confirms that no applications for review have been lodged within the 28 days, Council will issue the permit.

If there is an application for review, Council cannot issue the permit. Its decision to grant the permit and the permit conditions will be subject to review by VCAT. VCAT will make the final decision about the application.

Granting a Permit

If Council issues a permit, the applicant will receive a copy of the permit and the endorsed plans. These are important documents and should be kept in a safe place. Don't use the endorsed plans as your working plans. A copy of the endorsed plans and permit also need to be provided to the relevant building surveyor issuing the Building Permit.


Refusal of Permit

Council may refuse to grant the permit and will issue a Refusal to Grant a Permit notice. The grounds for the refusal will be listed on the notice. Council will give a copy of this notice to all parties involved in the application process.


If, as applicant, your application is refused, you have 60 days from the date that notice of the refusal is given to apply to VCAT for a review of the decision.


Stage 7: Appealing Against a Decision

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) independently reviews decisions made by councils about planning permit applications and other planning matters. The state government appoints VCAT members who are qualified legal practitioners, planners and other specialists.


VCAT conducts public hearings and considers submissions made by all the parties. VCAT makes its assessment of the proposal's planning merits and decides whether a permit should be granted, and what permit conditions are appropriate.

An appeal to VCAT is called an Application for Review. The party making the application for review is called the Applicant for Review.

One or more VCAT members hear the case and hearings are conducted in a structured, formal way. Courteous behaviour is required and people are not allowed to interrupt or ask questions during another's presentation. A lawyer or a planner may represent parties, but this is not essential, and many permit applicants and objectors present their own submissions.

An application for review involves all parties in a considerable amount of time, effort and expense, and it should be carefully considered.

VCAT provides a brochure to help people prepare effective submissions. It also explains some of the VCAT procedures. You can get a copy from www.vcat.vic.gov.au or by calling VCAT on 9628 9777.

For more information contact Council's Planning Department on 9262 6303 or visit the Whitehorse Civic Centre at 379-397 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading, between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Please note that Council's planners are available by appointment only, so it is best to call first and arrange a time.