What is the difference between a Town Planning Permit and Building Permit?

People often confused by the difference between a Town Planning Permit and Building Permit. They are different as different laws and regulations control them.
To carry out a building work, one may need a Planning Permit, Building Permit or both depending on the proposed development or land use.

Town Planning Permit

A town planning permit is a legal document issued by the local council giving approval for a land use or development.

The land use or development could vary from addition and alteration to a residence, major building work or removing vegetation from a property, to getting a liquor license or running a business from home.

The local council refers to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and their local planning scheme when they make planning decisions. Planners are only concern about the effect your project will have on the environment and everyday life. They make the decision based on the impact a new building or land use will have on the neighbourhood, neighbours and its municipality.

It is important to have a pre-application meeting with the council as one can find out if the council is in favour or against the development. As Architect, we represent our client during the meeting to present the project and negotiate with the council in favour of the client’s best interest. We then proceed to prepare documents which are required for the permit application.

If a Planning Permit is required, one must obtain it before a Building Permit can be issued. A Planning Permit does not remove the need to obtain a Building Permit.

Building Permit

A building permit which is issued by an independent and private Building Surveyor, relates specifically to the carrying out of building construction.

Under the Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2006, all proposed work is subject to the issuing of a Building Permit, unless an exemption exists for the building work which includes some minor demolitions, alterations and maintenance or repair work.

Building surveyors are only concern about the structure safety and health and amenity issue of the building and if the building work complies with the regulations. A Building Permit must be consistent with requirements of the Town Planning Permit.

To expedite the Building Permit application, as Architect, we prepare an extensive set of working drawings with clear specifications and details. This set of drawings can also be sent out to builders for quotations.

Rule of thumb

To avoid some pitfalls, it is best for one to contact the local council or an Architect to find out if one require a town planning permit, building permit or both for their project.

Howard Siow
M.Arch (MELB) Hons, RAIA
BY Projects Architecture



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