The Planning Process


Perhaps you have plans to renovate your home or build a new one. Perhaps your neighbours are proposing to extend their home or construct a granny flat. Or maybe a new housing development is proposed for the land next door to your property.

These are just a few of the many reasons why you may find yourself involved in the planning process often whether you want to be or not. However it happens, when it does it can be confusing and even a little daunting. But it need not be.

Planning is an essential part of the development process. Good planning can mean the difference between an average development and an excellent outcome that meets the community’s expectations. The planning process can also provide anyone with an interest in a proposed use or development to get involved and have their say.

This webpage aims to make sense of the planning process for everyone involved. You may find this Planning Permit flowchart(PDF, 473KB) useful.

If you would like to find out more about Planning in Victoria, as well as useful publications, please visit the Department of Transport and Planning website.

A planning permit is a document that allows a use and or a development to occur on a particular parcel of land. To obtain a planning permit you must make an application with the Council, who will then decide if the proposal is acceptable or not. If Council considers the proposal is acceptable, a planning permit will be issued.

The planning permit will contain conditions that regulate how the land can be used or developed, including setting a time limit for when the planning permit expires. It is also accompanied by endorsed plans that show what is to be built and/or how the land can be used.

Before starting a new business, relocating your existing business, constructing or extending a building, you need to find out whether you require a planning permit.

The Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme is the legal document used to identify when a planning permit is required for any use or development. All land within Hobsons Bay City Council has a planning zone, with some areas being covered by one or more Planning Overlays. If you want to find out what planning controls apply to your land, you can go to the State Government's VicPlan website.

The requirement for a planning permit depends on the planning controls that apply to the land and the changes that are proposed. Determining if a planning permit is required can be tricky, and it is a good idea to contact the Town Planning Team to find out if you need a planning permit for what you are proposing. The Town Planning Team can be contacted on email or phone 1300 179 944.



Planning officers are available to provide advice and information about local planning requirements to residents and applicants, and it is encouraged that you speak to a planning officer prior to lodging an application to ensure your proposal is generally in compliance with the Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme. It is important that you provide as much information as possible at this stage, that way the planning officer will be able to provide you with the best response possible.

You should consider engaging a design professional and/or planning consultant, particularly if your proposal is large or complex.

Be sure to talk to your neighbours before finalising your plans. If they are unhappy with an aspect of your proposal, you may be able to reach a compromise before lodging your planning application. Being up-front from the start will reduce the potential for conflict later on.

We’re happy to help.

If you have a planning question that is general in nature, or it’s early days and you don’t have any plans, you can:

  • contact Council on 1300 179 944 and ask to speak with a planning officer
  • visit the Hobsons Bay Civic Centre between 8.30am and 5pm to speak with a planning officer
  • Lodge a request online via Greenlight. A written response to a general enquiry takes five to seven business days, depending on the complexity of the enquiry and will require a fee. 

For all planning applications it is necessary to submit the following information:

  • a completed application form (unless lodging the application directly into Council’s Greenlight Portal)
  • payment of the appropriate application fees. The Schedule of Fees (1 July 2022 - 30 June 2023)(PDF, 214KB) identifies the amount of fees required however one of Council’s Planners can assist.
  • a Certificate of Title, including ownership details for the subject land (obtained from the Titles Office or

Depending on what is being applied for, you will also likely require -

  • A full set of Town Planning drawings (ie. a site plan, elevations etc).
  • A written description of the proposal and response to the relevant provisions of the Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme
  • Accompanying reports (ie. Sustainable Design Assessment, Car Parking Demand Assessment etc.

The Factsheets and Checklists page provides information on some popular types of planning permit applications.

Under State Government regulation, if Council has not made a decision within 60 statutory days, you can make an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and have the matter heard there. The 60 day timeframe will begin again if:

  • further information is required, the timeframe will begin again once the information is received, or
  • you make changes to the application

The timeframe may also stop during the advertising period if it is required.

Some types of planning applications for minor works may be eligible for consideration as a VicSmart Planning Application, which requires Council to decide the application within 10 business days. Further information on VicSmart applications can be found on the VicSmart Applications page.

It is common for multi-dwelling applications to take three to four months to decide. If an appeal is lodged against the decision, the final decision will take considerably longer, possibly six to seven months.  

Council is mindful that you are often under time and financial pressures. To assist Council in deciding your application as quickly as possible, it’s important that you submit all required information when lodging your application, and adopt any pre-application advice you may have received from Council.

Council is responsible for making decisions on individual applications for a planning permit based on the requirements within the Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme. Although there is opportunity to amend certain parts of the planning scheme to reflect the vision of the Council, it is bound by the planning policy requirements of the State Government.

Not all planning permits issued within Hobsons Bay have been approved by Council. If applicants or objectors are not satisfied with Council’s decision on a planning application, they can appeal the decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) to have the matter reviewed. The Tribunal can overturn or amend Council’s original decision.

If you need to make changes to a planning permit, the permit and endorsed plans can be amended. An amendment can include altering the permit preamble, conditions or the endorsed plans. There are two main ways in which a permit can be amended:

  1. A “secondary consent” request - A request made to make minor changes to a set of endorsed plans. A request under this provision must not alter any wording or conditions on the permit, or require advertising.

  2. An application to Amend a Planning Permit - A request under this provision can relate to changes to either the approved plans or the planning permit. The changes may be of any scale, including more substantial changes that may require advertising or changes to the wording on the permit.

A copy of these forms can be found at the Planning Forms.

Identifying the type of amendment required can be confusing. It is encouraged that you speak to a Town Planning Officer to help determine what type of amendment is required. Please contact the Planning Team on 1300 179 944.

If you are the owner or the occupier of the land to which a permit applies (or a representative), you may ask Council for an extension of time under the following circumstances:

  • the use or development allowed by the permit has not yet started and the permit is about to expire, or a request is being made within six months after the permit expiry date

  • the request is being made within 12 months after the permit expiry date, where the development allowed by the permit lawfully started before the permit expired.

There is no opportunity to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) if the application is made outside of this time.

In reviewing an extension of time application Council will consider how many extensions have been granted and whether there have been any changes to the planning policy that would impact the decision. If an extension of time is approved, the additional timeframe will generally be limited to a maximum of 12 months. 

Council is unlikely to grant an extension of time in the event that the permit has already been extended on numerous occasions or there have been significant changes to the planning scheme since the decision was made. 

An Extension of Time application can be made online through the Greenlight portal. To find your Planning Permit please type in the Permit number OR the address, not both. If you are searching using the address please type in the number and name of the street only (eg. 115 Civic), then click search. 

Council’s Greenlight Portal provides details of current and determined planning applications, together with information on all applications currently being advertised. Council will advertise an application if required by the Planning Scheme or if it feels that the approval of the permit may cause material detriment to any other person (in other words whether the application will affect anyone else). However, the planning scheme does in some circumstances exempt certain types of applications from being advertised.

Advertising a planning permit might include sending out notices to adjoining owners and occupiers, placing sign on the site or advertising in the local newspaper.

Details regarding how to support or object to a planning proposal can be found in the Supporting or Objecting to a Planning Application fact sheet at the Fact Sheet and Checklists page.

Sometimes, a planning permit is not the only approval you will require from Council. Other approvals may include:

You may also need approval from other authorities, such as:

Once Council has received your application for a planning permit, together with all of the necessary information and fees, the application will be allocated to a town planner. You will be notified in writing or via email of the planner’s name and contact number as well as your planning application number.

At this stage, an initial assessment is undertaken by the planner to determine whether there is any outstanding information that needs to be provided. If this is the case, the officer will write or email you and request further information that is required. Until this further information is submitted, the application is placed on hold.

Once the further information is submitted, the application may be advertised to the surrounding properties. Advertising will be for a period of 14 days, during which any person may view the plans and supporting documents, and lodge an objection. 

After the advertising period, the Council Planner will undertake a detailed assessment against the policies and decisions guidelines of the Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme. The assessment will consider the relevant policies, together with any objections and responses from internal and external referral authorities, such as the Department of Transport and Planning and Melbourne Water. 

Council may determine to either:

  • issue a permit (if there are no objections)

  • issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit (this happens when objections have been received but Council believes that the proposal is acceptable)

  • issue a Notice of Refusal to Grant a Permit (if Council believes that the proposal is not acceptable).

If an application has been refused or a permit has been issued with conditions which the applicant is concerned about, the applicant may appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 60 days of the decision.

Similarly, should Council issue a Notice of Decision, and the objectors are dissatisfied with Council's decision, the objectors can also lodge appeals within 28 days of the Notice. After the 28 days, if no appeals have been lodged by the objectors, Council will then issue a permit.

For further information on the appeal process visit the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal website.