Guidelines to obtaining approval for Development Application (DA) or Planning Permit (PP)

Application for planning permit - the process

In New South Wales and Victoria, the application to subdivide, renovate or develop property is called a Development Application (DA) and Planning Permit (PP) respectively.  The chances for obtaining an approval for a DA from the local council can be improved by following a few guidelines which are designed to facilitate transparent communication between the applicant and the council.

1. Find a good project manager / consultant

A consultant who is knowledgeable and well-versed with local planning laws and building codes will be able to provide critical advice on the feasibility of a proposed development. It is ideal to choose a consultant with a good track record for project managing similar developments within the suburb and one who has previously dealt with the local municipality / council for the suburb. This will ensure familiarity with local council guidelines which may vary from one council to another. More importantly, the consultant may have previously dealt with planning officers within the council and understand critical requirements of council to maximise the chances of any potential DA to be approved.

2. Comply to building and construction codes

A consultant who is well-versed with local building and construction codes will also be able to provide advice and design initial drawings and building plans which will comply to these codes. This important step will ensure there are no potential constraints or issues which are against planning laws that will hinder or delay the application process.

3. Arrange for a pre-application meeting with council

It is important to arrange for a pre-application meeting with council to establish and develop a relationship with the relevant planning officer who will be assigned to the application. It is not unusual to have more than one or two pre-application meetings whilst the design and building plans are being drawn to obtain feedback to fine-tune the drawings to ensure they satisfy all council requirements. This step can also be seen from council’s point of view that the applicant wishes to have a consultative approach and co-operate with council to ensure all requirements are met. Some councils have daily planning meetings where applicants can make appointment to discuss their proposed plans with council. This is a good approach to take before making key decisions that require financial and time commitments on the project.

4. Develop cordial relations with surrounding neighbours

If council is satisfied that all requirements to building and construction codes are complied with, the council will advise the application is then ready to be advertised where a signage is required to be erected on the proposed site to inform the neighbours of the proposed development. The council will usually also arrange for letters to be sent to neighbours within the vicinity of the proposed development to advise them of the same. Sometimes, neighbours can be concerned about how the proposed development will affect their property and will raise their concerns and objections during the advertisement period which is usually for a period of 14 days. Therefore, it is also important to engage and develop good relationships with neighbours as a basis to alleviate their concerns and assure them of a positive outcome from the development.

5. Follow-up process with council

Follow-up activity with council is important to ensure the application process is on track and within stipulated time-frames. Any objections from neighbours should also be analysed to see if such objections relate to any contravention of planning laws which may delay or halt the application process. If the objections do not relate to a breach of planning laws, then the project manager / consultant should try to obtain feedback from council on the likelihood of approval.

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