Town Planning in Victoria: Vicsmart vs full town planning application

Sophie Thomas works in our Business Support group and has a very strong career background in marketing for business' and customer service. She has very well developed negotiation skills which assist our client's in getting favourable outcomes from other stakeholders. Sophie has previous experience working in local government in her native home in the UK and has a very well developed understanding of the inner workings of local councils.

 

VicSmart is a process for fast tracking simple planning applications for smaller developments. This article outlines how a proposal may qualify as a VicSmart application and also describes the difference between a full planning application and a VicSmart simpler planning permit process.

 

There are two tiers of planning applications in Victoria, a full development application and a VicSmart simpler planning permit application. VicSmart was bought in to simplify and streamline the planning permit process for straightforward planning applications and since indroduction has had subsequent amendments VC135, VC137, VC142 and others. VicSmart is available for planning applications in Melbourne and all throughout Victoria.

VicSmart planning applications are assessed through pre-set decision guidelines that are set out in the VicSmart planning provisions for the class of application.

Key features of VicSmart

  • 10 business day fast track planning permit process
  • Applications are not advertised to the public
  • Pre-set required information to be submitted with a VicSmart planning application
  • The Chief Executive Officer of the council or delegate decides the application.

Town planning consultants in Melbourne and wider Victoria are more likely to be engaged for full planning applications rather than VicSmart due to their simplicity.

VicSmart fast track applications are appropriate for small scale developments or building works:

  • Tree lopping and removal
  • Minor subdivisions
  • Car park loading bay waivers
  • Small advertising signs
  • Small scale or low impact buildings and works

VicSmart town planning application process

  1. Talk to the local council and confirm whether you are eligible for VicSmart
  2. Submit your application with all the require information. You can find the VicSmart Checklist of what is required here and more information at The Complete VicSmart Guide website here.
  3. A council officer assesses the application through pre-set decision guidelines
  4. The application is decided and either approved or refused within 10 business days

The 10 business days starts from the day after council’s receipt of the application. It is possible to amend a VicSmart town planning application. The 10 days will start again from the day the amendment was received.

If required information has not been supplied, further information will be requested in writing from council. If the request for further information is made within five business days of receiving the application, the council will have a further 10 days to decide the application from when the request has been responded to.

You have the same review rights as with a full development town planning application and can apply for an application for review for the following:

  • failure to grant a permit within the prescribed time – 10 business days
  • refusal to grant a permit
  • conditions in a permit
  • refusal to extend the time to commence or complete a development or use.

The full development application town planning process

  • The town planning application is lodged with the council and assigned to a town planner. Within 28 days of being assigned the town planner may write to request further information or request to amend aspects of the design that they would like to see changed. This happens in most planning applications
  • The town planning application is advertised for a minimum of 14 days. A sign is usually erected on the site for the duration which outlines what the development application is for. Council also notifies the neighbours and gives them the opportunity to object.
  • The council assess the application against the planning scheme, taking into account any objections and comments from referral authorities like Vicroads and negotiating with the permit applicant regarding any changes the town planner would like.
  • The council will issue their decision which will either be a planning permit, a notice of decision or a refusal.
  • Depending on the area where the application is made (for example in a heritage precinct), considerations of heritage studies or overlays may be applicable

If there have been objections to the development, then the council will issue a notice of decision to grant a permit. This gives objectors 28 days to apply to VCAT if they wish. If no application to VCAT is made, then the permit will be sent to you after the 28 days.

If the council refuse the application or if you are unhappy with some of the condition of the permit you have 60 days to appeal the decision at VCAT.

VicSmart Process Advantages

  • VicSmart planning assessment takes 10 business days from the application being lodged to a decision being reached.
  • The council application fee is less than for a full planning application
  • The VicSmart application is not advertised to the public with the possibly of objections

VicSmart Disadvantages

  • Only certain applications qualify for VicSmart
  • All information has to be prepared prior to lodgement including comments from referral authorities if required
  • It may take longer than 10 days due to information not supplied, inaccurate information, design negotiations or another outstanding matter

Town Planning applications Fees

Vicsmart application fees are a lot lower than the fees for regular planning applications. Councils will charge either $195.10 or $419.10 for a VicSmart application depending on what it is for. These fees are applicable for all local councils in Melbourne and throughout Victoria.

A full list of the fees are below:

VicSmart application if the estimated cost of development is $10,000 or less

$195.10

VicSmart application if the estimated cost of development is more than $10,000

$419.10

VicSmart application to subdivide or consolidate land

$195.10