Town Planning Permit v. Building Permit.

The difference between a town planning permit and a building permit is often confusing. However, they serve quite distinct purposes, as different laws and regulations control them.

A planning and/or building permit is often a requirement to carry out a building works. However this of course depends on the proposed development or land use.

Town Planning Permit

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

The land use or development can vary from residential additions and alterations to major building work. It can also include or removing or relocating vegetation from a property. Alternate use can consist of obtaining a liquor license or running a business from home.

The local council refers to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and local planning schemes in making planning decisions. Planners are only concerned about the effect your project will have on the local environment and everyday life. They make the decision based on the impact of the project on the neighbourhood, neighbours and its municipality.

It is important to have a pre-application meeting with the council. This helps to determine if the council is in favour or against the development. Furthermore, as architects, 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 prepare the required documents for the permit application.

If a planning permit is required, it must be obtained 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 relates specifically to building construction. Independent and private building surveyors control the issue of building permits.

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 minor demolition, alteration and maintenance or repair work.

Building surveyors are only concerned about the structure, safety, and health and amenity issues of the building as well as if the building work complies with regulations. A building permit must be consistent with requirements of the town planning permit.

To expedite the building permit application, as an architect, we prepare an extensive set of working drawings with clear specifications and details.

Rules of thumb

To avoid pitfalls, it is best to contact the local council or an architect to find out if your project requires a permit.

Howard Siow, 23/02/2022


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