Getting Council Approval for Buildings

When planning and developing a property getting approval from your council can seem daunting. There are so many regulations that need to be adhered to it can seem like an impossible task. To help simplify things we’ve put together a simple guide to help you on your way.


When do you need approval?

First things first, when do you actually need to get approval from the council for a project? Well there are many times including;

  • Demolishing, constructing, adding or altering a building
  • Erecting a sign
  • Changing the use of a property
  • Any activity that may cause damage to a regulated tree
  • Any external alteration (and in some cases internal alterations) to a heritage listed item
  • Dividing or altering the boundary of an allotment

There are also other times it is important to get the council’s approval, so if you’re unsure what category your project fits into it is best to enquire with your local council before you begin planning.


Planning Assessment

Now that you know that you’ve got to get approval, just how do you go about doing so? Well firstly you must get the planning assessment approved. This consists of assessing the impact the development will have, including;

  • Potential impact of development upon adjoining buildings, properties and people (eg. Overshadowing, overlooking and visual dominance)
  • How the character of existing buildings in an existing street may be impacted.
  • Appropriateness of certain land uses, dependant on the relevant zoning
  • Size, shape, orientation and layout of any new allotments
  • Impacts to any heritage items, including any works done adjacent to a heritage building.

Examples of other criteria considered during assessment are environmental sustainability, access and traffic, and public safety. It should be noted that each of these may vary from not only council to council but zones in those council areas as well, so it is important that you research what the council wants in the area you are planning to develop or alter.


Building Assessment

After you’ve passed the planning assessment it’s time to start your plans for any buildings that are going to occur. This can involve a few steps including;

  • Appraisal of building designs; to ensure the proposed works are in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards (Includes items such as disabled access, fire and life safety systems etc.).
  • Providing the council with ALL plans and documents required for the type of development proposed (Application assessments will be significantly delayed if not all required documents are submitted).

How are Architects, Engineers and Builders involved in getting plans approved?

Architects / Builders: Your Architect or Building Designer should work alongside you during the design development process, until you reach a point where all requirements are met and you’re ready to lodge your ideas with council. As long as they are aware of all council requirements there should be little to no issues, however, if they fail to consider an issue that the council raises they may need to make changes where appropriate and will work with you again in order to ensure your planning assessment as well as building assessment applications get approved.

Engineers: While there is not always direct contact to the engineer, you can request to talk to them through your architect/building designer. They will work closely with either you or your architect/designers to calculate and ensure structural suitability of your building designs when it comes to the building assessment. They are the backbone that ensures the council will be happy that the proposed ideas are structurally stable and will meet state/national requirements.

Note: Keep in mind this is a simplified guide and for any further enquiries you may have it is best to contact your local council.




Getting Council Approval for Buildings