Posts Tagged ‘Town Planning’

WMO assessment

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

As many of you are aware, since black saturday, Local councils have initiated a new Town planning overlay called WMO, Wildfire Management Overlay. This is basically assessing your proposal against the local CFA and council recommendations for a wildfire management plan to avoid loss of life during a bushfire.

Obvioulsy this is just a new Town planning overlay, with very few speacilists available to write WMO management plans and reports, the waiting time for approvals is increasing.

Fast Track’s town planning department are specialists in preparing both WMO managements plans and BAL, building action levels. We assess your proposal and ensure that it has the best chance of being approved. our usual timeline to get the documentation completed by our team is within a week if we have all the required information needed, also, as we specilize in these reports, we provide all the information that the local council and CFA require for a quick and successful application, allowing you to get on and obtain your building permit.

So, if your a local Melbourne builder, Melbourne designer or architect or home owner wanting a quick and cost effective result to your WMO issues, please contact our Town Planning Team for a fee proposal.

Building In A Bushfire Prone Area

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Are you building in a bushfire prone area?

Building in a bushfire area requires careful town planning, siting and design. Buildings
must be designed and constructed to minimise the risk of ignition from a bushfire.
Following the recent bushfires in Victoria there are new regulations which involves
the site to have an assessment done which is called a BAL which is a Building Attack
Level which will assess the buildings in terms of construction requirements. The
BAL is used as part of the Building Permit application.
The BAL must be assessed by a Qualified Building Practioner which Fast Track Plans
& Permits Pty Ltd is and is another part of our service. The BAL includes a site plan
and other information such as a report to identify vegetation, slope direction of the
site, access and access to water supplies.
It is our responsibility as the designer to incorporate the appropriate construction
requirements in the house design and work with our Melbourne Building Surveyor to ensure you
obtain your Building Permit.
We charge a flat fee of $300 for a BAL and can have it completed in one day to
ensure you can obtain your building permit.
Call our building design department today to get assistance with your.

Speeding up the Town Planning Process

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

The following principles underpin your town  planning permit process:
• Strategic basis – your proposal  addressing schemes concisely and clearly express a strategic vision and policy basis approach.

• Clear and consistent
 – Standard provisions apply across the State and are clearly expressed, and having your application address these in the form required by council to highlight clear and consistant information.
• Transparent – Rationale for policy, requirements and planning decisions, consents on your appliation are made transparent.
• Third party involvement – Public consultation and engagement by affected people in the formation of town planning schemes, in assessing development and in reviewing decisions.
• Timeliness – An assessment process that does not delay consideration of proposals, and this has been highlighted by councils as the main cause of delays by applications not being submitted fully with all the information required.
• Improvement - Town Planning schemes and processes are regularly reviewed by council, we are aware of these and the impact on your project.
 Single point of assessment – One person coordinates necessary referrals and notification, and determines the application process and follows it through council.

• Tailored assessment
 – Different levels of assessment dependent and independant on complexity and impact of proposal.

• Independent review of decisions
 – Opportunity for town planning permit decisions to be reviewed by an independent body, VCAT.

When Do I Need A Planning Permit?

Friday, March 28th, 2014

While building permits generally relate to the construction of a building or development, planning permits relate to the zoning of the land, including whether the land can be used for residential or commercial developments. Not all projects need a planning permit.

Planning permits are legal documents giving permission for a land use or development, and may be required for all building work. If a planning permit is required, it must be issued before the building permit can be issued. A planning permit does not remove the need to obtain a building permit. The building permit documentation lodged with the relevant building surveyor must be consistent with the planning permit approved documentation. Amendments made through the planning permit process will need to be mirrored in the building permit approved documentation.

Do I need a council permit for a deck or pergola?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014


Council permits for decking and pergolas

Arranging and paying for permits is the right thing to do, and will ensure that your decking and pergolas are built safely and properly.

When it comes time to building your deck or pergola, you will first need to make sure that you have approval from your local council. Though you may be advised by friends or family that a permit is not required, it won’t be them paying the fine or having to remove the structure if it turns out that you do.

All councils will have their own sets of regulations regarding decks, pergolas and other house extensions. These regulations cover things like structural integrity, what materials you can use and minimum construction standards that must be met.


What kinds of permits are required?

There are two types of permits that may be required, a building permit covers things like compliance with safety regulations and construction details. Local councils offer planning permits, but you may be directed to contact a registered building surveyor for a building permit.

There are many components of your construction which will likely require you to obtain a permit. Some of them are:

  • Any closed roofed structure such as a steel or acrylic roof pergola (shade cloth and sails will likely not require a permit, but check anyway).
  • Footings, and specifically their depth, construction and ability to cope with the load of the deck or pergola roof.
  • Any structures attached to the house.
  • Structures located high up where there may be a need for a fence or rail to prevent falling injuries.


Is it a pergola, a verandah or a carport?

These structures are pretty similar in terms of how they’re designed by your draftsperson, but even if they’re used for different things it’s often important to make a ‘technical’ distinction to understand why a permit might be needed.

  • Verandah - open or partly open portion of a house or building, or a roofed space attached to a building outside the principal rooms, and covered either by the main roof or a separate, lower roof.
  • Carport - roofed, open or semi-enclosed structure for sheltering of motor vehicles, most frequently associated with a dwelling.
  • Pergola - open-roofed framework over a path, terrace or patio, supported on posts or columns, and usually covered with plants trained over the members.


Depending on where you live, the difference between these three things as far as regulations are concerned can come down to what sort of roof it has – if any. If it’s got a solid roof made of tiles, metal or polycarbonate, for example, it’s likely to be treated as a verandah or carport. If the roof’s made of mesh, battens or lattice – or if it doesn’t have a roof at all – it’s likely to be treated as a pergola.

How the structure of your building’s defined (i.e. based on the roof) can make a significant difference in terms of:

  • whether a permit’s required,
  • how close to your property boundary it can go
  • structural requirements, and
  • whether or not non-combustible materials are necessary

Obviously it’s far better to establish these things before you make any commitments – so a call to your draftsperson or  local council’s building services department is a very good idea.


Enquiring about exemptions and guidelines

When talking to your draftsperson or local council, ask them about the exemptions that exist for decks and pergolas – that is, conditions under which a permit is not required. If it’s only a matter of some basic adjustments to your original intentions, you may be able to tailor your construction to these guidelines. If you are able to construct without a permit or only need to make some minor cosmetic adjustments to fall outside the permit criteria, then you can save yourself some money and time.


What do permits cost?

The cost of obtaining a permit will vary from each council or surveyor to the next, but will likely pale in comparison to any fines issued for non-compliance. The additional risk of not obtaining a building permit is that your structure may be unsound and could cause injuries to family or friends so whatever the permits cost, it’s likely to be a small price to pay for the reassurance it brings.

Can I use my shed as a permanent dwelling?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Buildings in Melbourne such as sheds are not normally approved for use as homes or dwellings as they may not have been constructed to comply with the requirements of the Regulations for a residential dwelling. Following the 2009 bushfires, certain concessions for temporary accommodation in buildings on bushfire affected properties were introduced to the Town planning scheme. These concessions will expire on 31 March 2012 by which time all buildings must comply.

If you are considering building a shed with a view to later using it as a dwelling it is important that you seek professional advice before you Draftsperson, as it may not be the best or most cost efficient option for you. The first choice should be to construct a new dwelling that fully complies with the Building Regulations 2006 (the Regulations).

The following information on sheds (Class 10a building) and dwellings (Class 1a building) may assist you in considering your options carefully.

What are the building permit requirements?

A building permit is required for most Melbourne building work including the following buildings:

• Construction of a shed (Class 10a building) greater than 10 m2 in area;

• Construction of a dwelling (Class 1a);

• To change the use of an existing building from a shed (Class 10a) to a dwelling (Class 1a).

A shed used temporarily as a dwelling is not exempt from the requirement to obtain a building permit for its construction. You should consult your draftsperson or local council for further advice on building permit requirements.

Are there exemptions for people rebuilding following the 2009 bushfires?

People rebuilding following the 2009 bushfires may be exempt from the requirements to obtain a planning permit until 31 March 2011 to complete the construction of the building for temporary accommodation or a new dwelling because of amendments to the Victorian Planning Provisions.

The use of a building for temporary accommodation will need to cease by 31 March 2012 unless the building is brought into compliance with the planning and building legislation requirements for a dwelling.

Can I retain a building used as temporary accommodation on my site permanently?

It will depend on the type of temporary building, whether you had a building permit for its original construction and what your planned use of the building is as to whether you can retain it permanently. You may need to obtain a building and planning permit for a change of use or works to bring it up to a suitable level of safety or amenity.

To assist you in determining whether you may be able to retain your building permanently, a number of different scenarios are provided below. Further advice can be obtained from the building and Town planning departments of your local council.

Town Planning and building legislation contain provisions relating to sheds on properties where they are not associated with a dwelling. Where a shed is proposed to remain on an allotment and a dwelling destroyed by the bushfires has not been re-built the local council may have additional controls and requirements that need to be addressed. Further advice on this can be obtained from the planning and building departments of your local council.

Building legislation issues that will affect your change of use application

A key point to note is that a building permit and occupancy permit cannot legally be issued after the building has been constructed (except where additional new work is proposed).

Where a change of use is proposed, Regulation 1011 of the Regulations allows a municipal building surveyor (MBS) or a private building surveyor to issue a building permit and an occupancy permit to allow the change of use of a building to occur.

The Regulation states “A person must not change the use of a building or place of public entertainment unless the building or place of public entertainment complies with the requirements of these Regulations applicable to the new use”.

There is some discretion given to the building surveyor to allow partial compliance with the Regulations applicable to the new use, however they must take into account structural adequacy of the building, health and amenity and fire safety requirements when assessing your request to change the use of the building.

As many of these buildings will be in bush settings a major issue for consideration in determining if a change of use to a dwelling is feasible will be the construction requirements for buildings in bushfire prone areas.

The following scenarios may help you understand the factors that may allow or prevent you from retaining your temporary accommodation or shed.

Scenario 1

You obtained a building permit to build a shed and would like to retain it as a shed

• This is acceptable;

• You should ensure that a Certificate of Final Inspection has been issued for the shed; If you have used your shed as temporary accommodation following the 2009 bushfires and installed facilities such as a kitchen, toilet, bathroom and laundry, you will need to remove these by the 31 March 2012 when the occupation of the shed as temporary accommodation will no longer be allowed.

Scenario 2

You did not obtain a building permit to build the shed and would now like to retain it as a shed

• Building Surveyors cannot legally issue a building permit and certificate of final inspection after the building has been constructed.

• MBS from the local council could issue a Building Notice (show cause) and possibly follow up with a Building Order to carry out building work, and if satisfied, could allow the structure to remain, however the structure will not be issued with a building permit.

• If the MBS doesn’t allow the structure to remain the owner would either remove it or appeal the Building Order to the Building Appeals Board (BAB), however the BAB would need to be satisfied that the building was safe to remain as a shed.

Scenario 3

You obtained a building permit for a shed and would like to change its use to a dwelling

An owner may apply for a change of use permit however the building surveyor would need to be satisfied that relevant requirements applicable to a dwelling (Class 1a building) have been met.

The change of use may mean you also need to obtain a Town planning permit from the local council.

The building surveyor would also require plans drawn up by a draftsperson, to show as constructed details and proposed building work still to be carried out. The building surveyor will be concerned about non-compliance and defects, especially with the safety of current and future owners and would need to be satisfied that the building was safe to be occupied as a dwelling.

It can sometimes be very costly to change the use of a building as you may need to replace concrete slabs, footings and other building requirements (see other considerations below). You may also need to consider the requirements in the building standard for construction in bushfire prone areas.1

The building will need to be assessed for energy efficiency and the installation of insulation and other energy efficiency measures may be required.

A building permit will be required for the works to convert the shed to a dwelling and an occupancy permit issued upon completion.

Scenario 4

You do not have a building permit for a shed and would like to retain it as a dwelling

It may be more difficult to justify retention of the shed as a permanent dwelling because the construction details may not be known.

Building surveyors cannot legally issue a building permit (or an occupancy permit) for a dwelling after the building has been constructed without approval.

The Municipal building surveyor (MBS) could issue a Building Notice (show cause) and possibly follow up with a Building Order to carry out building work, and if satisfied could allow a structure to remain; however the owners will not have a building permit or occupancy permit.

The MBS will be concerned about non-compliance and defects, especially with the safety of current and future owners.

Building owners may appeal the Building Notice or Building Order to the Building Appeals Board (BAB), however the BAB would need to be satisfied that the building was safe to remain as a dwelling.

Other considerations

Seeking to change the use of a shed to a dwelling is not simple. There are many considerations and it is recommend that you seek professional financial, building and regulatory advice before you make your decision.

Some other considerations include:

Is it feasible and cost effective to upgrade the temporary building to a standard that it can be used as a dwelling (Class 1a building)? The first choice should be to construct a new dwelling that fully complies with the Building Regulations 2006.

• To successfully change the use of your temporary building to a dwelling you will need to ensure that the structure meets the requirements of the Regulations and the Building Code of Australia. This will include the preparation of suitable plans of the building and a site plan, and the provision of a number of reports such as a BAL assessment, energy rating, geotechnical (soil) report and structural engineering design where required. Key construction elements that you will need to consider include:

o Bushfire construction requirements for the site;

o Energy efficiency requirements;

o Structural construction requirements for footings/slab on ground (soil test required), wall and roof framing; Slabs for dwellings have different requirements to those used for sheds. If the shed slab does not meet the requirements for a dwelling then it is not feasible to consider a change of use.

o Damp proofing under concrete floors;

o Termite protection where required;

o Minimum ceiling heights (2.4 m for habitable rooms and 2.1 m for laundry, bathroom, corridor and toilet);

o Minimum window sizes (including openable portions for ventilation);

o Required facilities for cooking, laundry, bathroom, toilet and damp proofing of floors and walls;

o Certificates of compliance for electrical, plumbing and glazing;

o Septic Tank system (where required);

o Complying steps, landings, balustrades (where required) and

o Hard wired smoke alarms.

1 Australian Standard, AS3959-2009 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas.

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Planning Advertising

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

When a planning permit application for a Change of Use, Dual Development Applications is lodged, it is at Council discretion to determine whether public notification is required.

This is depending on the size and possible impacts of the application, Council decide on advertising to the public either by direct mail notification, on-site signage or advertising in the local paper.

If public notification is required, it must be carried out for a period of at least 14 consecutive days, during this time, any person can make a submission in writing either in support or objection to the proposed permit.

The advertising must be done to council requirements, if it is not done to the letter as required by council, then re-advertising will need to be done which means extra cost and extra time for objections to be submitted.

It is highly recommended that you seek your town planners advise on placement of advertising.

The invitation to comment that is issued by the council is taken seriously by the council and needs to be addressed accordingly by any developer as it could make the difference between a successful or refused application.

Any comments received are called submissions, and these are lodged with the council during the advertising period, submissions that oppose a proposal are known as objections. Most submissions are mostly objections and need to be dealt with promptly by your town planner before council makes its final decision.

It is also important to note that all objections that are successfully dealt with by your town planner are done in writing, as a verbal  acknowledgement to withdraw the objection is not observed by council.

Housing Affordability and Town Planning

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

According to the global housing affordability index the definition of ‘affordable housing’ is when the median house price is no more than three times the average yearly income of the buying population.  However, the median house price raised to four times the average Melbournian’s income in 1988 and has increased yearly to be eight times the average income in 2009.  While home owners enjoy the gains of these increases, an entire socio-economic group has been priced our of the market.

The question is, what has caused this housing affordability crisis?  One factor is land supply, namely the Urban Growth Boundary which dictates where development can take place and has increased the price of land.   In addition to increasing property taxes such as Stamp Duty which is highest in Victoria.    Furthermore, break downs in Town Planning within councils has meant unnecessary delays and inconsistent decision making on councils part which costs home buyers in time and money.  Victoria’s planning system is one of the least effective in the nation.  A recent survey by Master Builders displayed that the average cost for planning delays due to council is $35,000.  Despite all councils being required to process planning permits within 8.6 weeks the average length of time to secure a permit is 23 weeks.  This time can be reduced by engaging a private Town Planner and Drafting team, like Fast Track Plans and Permits.

Lastly, increasingly complicated and costly government regulations linked to housing increases the cost of housing.  The government have stipulated a range of housing regulations such as ensuring Five Star rating $7600, Six Star rating $10, 000, Water Tanks $2,000 to name a few which increases the cost of building.

How can our drafting and town planning company assist with the Housing Affordibility dilemma?  We can cut the time delays with council for planning permits and can help you design a house using more efficient and cost effective materials.

Melbourne / Frankston Development applications

Friday, October 29th, 2010

If you’re thinking of renovating extending, building, demolishing or subdividing you will most probably need to lodge a development application with your local council. There are no general regulations on this – you must contact your local council for specific details however, we have put together a general guide of what the process can involve.

What is a development application?

A development application is an application made to local council for consent to carry out development such as demolition, extensions, subdivision, house construction and possibly renovation. So if you are thinking of adding on, building a shed, undergoing a knockdown-rebuild, altering the structure of your home or making any other major change to your building or garden you may need to submit one.

How do I know if I need to submit one?

Not everyone who does a renovation has to submit a development application – the exact requirements are dictated by each local council. That means that your renovation in one location may need one, while your mate’s identical renovation in a different location may not. The only way to be sure is to contact your own local council. Some of the general stipulations councils use to determine whether you need an application include:

Zoning regulations – your local council is divided into zones such as residential or business. Different regulations for factors such as building height apply to each different zone.
The council’s Local Environment Plan – establishes what forms of development and land use are permitted in a council area. Different types of development will be permitted in different zones.
Development Control Plans and land use regulations – these provide additional information and guidelines to the Local Environment Plan on development and land use.
Visual impact of development – will the development change the look of the area or streetscape? Will it be an eyesore?
Impact on adjoining property – how will the development affect the neighbours?
Many local councils will have information online detailing their guidelines but it may be worthwhile organising a meeting with a council member. They will tell you:

Specific planning controls as stipulated by the above points (they will have a long term plan that considers factors such as streetscape, fire hazards, drainage, erosion, waste management, wildlife and sustainability).
Whether you meet the criteria to be exempt from development consent (it’s still worthwhile notifying the council of your proposed work anyway).
Whether you meet the criteria requiring development approval.
Whether you meet the criteria requiring involvement at a higher level due to wider social, economic or environmental impact.
Whether you are prohibited from development.


Before you submit a development application we recommend consulting the neighbours. This allows you to explain your development plans in detail and allows them to voice any concerns. A small change in the plans now could make the neighbours happy and potentially save you a lot of cash.

Supporting information

Again, you will need to check with your local council the specific supporting material needed to be submitted with your application. This may include but is not limited to the following:

Scaled architectural plans
Reduced A4 plans
Architectural model
Site analysis plan
Survey plan
Landscape plans and calculations
Drainage plans
Erosion and sediment plans
Environmental impact report
Geotechnical reports about the soil
Shadow diagrams
Waste management plan
Statement of heritage impact (if property or area is heritage listed)
Accoustical report

Engineers certificate for structural design


Any supporting material (as listed above) will cost you extra. Depending on the size and type of your development you could be looking at thousands of dollars. Each council will have a Development Application Fee that you will have to lodge alongside your application. The amount is dictated by the size and type of your development. Contact your local council for a schedule of fees. They may have them online.

Public notification

So you’ve submitted your application. It doesn’t stop here. You may have a period of public notification (depending on your local council) whereby members of the community have access to your application and can lodge an objection. This is where consulting your neighbours prior to submitting will benefit you.

The decision making process

At this point you may be required to do the following:

  • Submit additional information
  • Undergo a council inspection of the site
  • Attend a council meeting

There are a number of ways your application will be assessed and this is generally determined by which criteria you meet. Assessment options include:

Assessment by council planning staff under delegated authority
Assessment by your council conducting a development assessment meeting – this can occur due to objections to the proposal or because it does not comply with the council’s standard regulations and policies. (This may differ slightly from council to council).
Assessment at a council meeting – this is when the application is controversial, has attracted a large number of objections or has been referred from a development assessment meeting.
Approval notification

Now it’s a waiting game – how long the approval takes depends on the type of application,your Town Planner and your council. Some can take a few weeks while others may drag out for months. You will be notified by mail of the outcome of the application process. Depending on the council you may be able to track the process on the internet. Some council’s publish results in the local newspaper.

Additional info

You must remember that while the general process for obtaining a development application is the same across Australia, requirements and processes will differ from council to council. Before you start your application it’s essential to contact your local council or town planer. They will be able to give you a list of specific requirements and guidelines you need to follow.

Pre-design Meetings Offer

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Since the introduction of our pre-design meetings, we have had an amazing response from people and the feedback has been very positive. We are offering new customers from melbourne $100 off our normal design meeting price until the end on this month. That means you get a complete design briefing for $250 instead of the standard $350.

When you order a design meeting, the most senior of the design team, the Director, comes to site and discusses your design with you, your design needs and outcomes, the general costs of construction, ways of budget reduction, the issues and timelines of your project, realistic budgeting and innovative design ideas.

The design meeting usually takes on average 1-2 hours, and goes over all the issues and making the process clear and concise on what documentation you need for your project, and a step by step process for you to follow if you decide to move ahead with the design once you have assessed all the information.

We can also discuss the differences between using a architect in Melbourne and a Melbourne Draftsperson, we can also highlight the some of the pitfalls in the building trade and inform you of how to avoid these.

If you have been thinking of getting a quote for a design, wanting to know if your design will actually work, or can afford the design you want, call us and take us up on the special offer now.

Call the design team on (03) 9770 5858 or call me on 0404 906 803.