Planning FAQs

What are the steps in the planning process?

Planning permit process

Most applications fall under this prescribed process. Following legislation, we will make our decision based on these steps:

Pre application

A pre application meeting with Council can assist in identifying any issues or areas you need to further consider. Consultation with your neighbours is encouraged.


Your application is lodged with us, registered and allocated to a planner. You’ll receive a letter providing the contact details of your planner.

Request for more information

If we need more information in order to assess your application, we will request further information from you. As part of this process your planner may also raise design issues or other concerns, providing you an opportunity to address these issues.


If your proposal could affect neighbouring houses, businesses, or properties, public notification of the application will be required. We will be in touch with you to arrange this process and to arrange for you to pay the fees associated with advertising the application.

The public notification phase can involve notices by mail to neighbours which are sent by Council, signs on site which you are required to erect and maintain, and a notice in specified newspapers.

We place your application on our website during the notification period for interested parties to view. There is a period of 14 days in which interested people can object to, or support, your application. If there are submissions to your application, we will provide these to you at the end of the advertising period.


The Planning Scheme may specify that your application must be referred to a referral authority. Referral authorities have 28 days in which to respond to the referral.

Your planner may also seek advice from other departments within Council.


Our planner will consider your application according to the requirements of the Horsham Planning Scheme, the Planning and Environment Act, and other regulations.

We will consider advice from other departments, referral authorities and any objections received. 


If we don’t make a decision on your application within 60 statutory days, you can lodge an appeal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

There are three possible outcomes:

·       Planning Permit is granted;

·       Notice of Decision to issue a Planning Permit (this is only when objections are received);

·       Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit is issued.


If we reject your proposal, you have 60 days following our decision to lodge an appeal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review.

If you disagree with us approving an application, you have 28 days from our decision to lodge an appeal with VCAT for review.

You can find information about lodging an appeal on the VCAT website.

VicSmart Applications - Fast track your permit in 10 days

Simple, straightforward and low impact planning applications may be eligible for VicSmart processing.

Key features of VicSmart include:
  • Permit processing in 10 business days
  • Applications are not advertised
  • The information required to be submitted is pre-set by council
Does your application qualify for VicSmart?

You will need to make a pre-application appointment with the Planning team to discuss your application and find out whether it qualifies for a 10 day permit.

How do I submit a VicSmart application?

The VicSmart process involves four simple steps:

Step 1: Prepare

Step 2: Submit

Step 3: Assess

Step 4: Decide

 Call and speak to a Planning Officer. Arrange a meeting to discuss your proposal, pick up checklists and any other information before submitting your application

Submit the application to the Council with all the required information as per your discussion with the Council Planning Officer

A Council officer assesses the application against pre-set criteria

A Council officer approves or refuses the application within 10 business days

What is a planning permit?

A Planning Permit may be required for various land uses and all forms of development including, native vegetation removal, buildings and works, change of use and subdivision of land. Planning controls which apply to your land will determine if a permit may be issued for these activities. In making a decision on a Planning Permit application, Council must consider the relevant decision guidelines under the Horsham Planning Scheme.

Please contact Council’s Town Planning Department on 5382 9798 or to confirm whether you require a planning permit prior to the commencement of any new use or development.

Please note it is advised to make contact with Council’s Town Planners early on in your planning process as they will be able to determine whether permits are necessary and what kind of permit may be required. 


Are planning permits different to building permits?

Yes. Planning Permits are usually required before you undertake any change of land use or development. Building permits generally relate only to the actual construction plans of a building or development. If a Planning Permit is required, it must be obtained before a Building Permit can be issued. Before you start, please contact Council’s Planning Department to discuss local Planning requirements, the permits you may require and what fees apply.

How do I get planning advice?

Need more information or have a Planning inquiry? You can contact Council's Planning Department on 5382 9798 or via email at, or in person by appointment at 17 Roberts Avenue, Horsham.

Request For Written Advice.docx(DOCX, 105KB)

Alternatively, you can request planning advice from a local planning consultancy.

How do I view the planning scheme?

The Horsham Planning Scheme can be viewed here.

Horsham Planning Scheme 

What are the planning fees?

The planning fees are outlined here(PDF, 670KB).

What plans are needed with a planning application?


When you submit a Planning Permit application for development, building or extension to an existing building, we require copies of certain plans to help us assess your application. The more information provided up front, the faster we can process your application.

  • One copy of the plans (at a scale of 1:100 or 1:200). These are especially required for applications requiring building works approval
  • One set of full plans on A3 paper must be supplied when lodging plans with your application
  • An electronic version, PDF copy
Site plan

A site plan is a birds-eye view which shows your existing and proposed development, and the position to boundaries and neighbouring developments.

The site plan should show all structures, existing and proposed on the site, and any other features such as vegetation, car parking, driveways and crossovers. The plan should be fully dimensioned showing length of boundaries and walls, site levels, the distances between existing and proposed buildings, and the property boundaries and adjoining walls should also be provided. The plans should distinguish clearly between existing and proposed structures and features.

Floor plan

A floor plan is a birds-eye view of the existing and proposed structures in your development. It should show the layout of the building, its relationship to existing buildings, the location and dimensions of walls, windows and doors, and the use of each room and area within the building.

Elevation plans

Elevation plans are side on-views of your proposed development. Elevations of all four sides (north, south, east and west) should accompany your application.

The plans should show:

  • Details of construction materials
  • The height and length of walls
  • The dimensions of windows and their height above ground level

For confirmation on what other documentation may be required for your development application, please contact Council’s Town Planning Department on 5382 9798 or

How do I request a copy of a title?

When lodging a planning permit application you must provide us with a full, current (no older than 60 days) copy of the title for each parcel of land that is a part of the subject site. You can get a copy of a title from LandData and follow these steps:

1.   Create your account

2.   Select Order a copy of a title or plan

3.   Enter the address ad confirm property details

4.   Tick the boxes next to Register search statement and Copy of plan

5.   Select next and follow the prompts.

Note: If a covenant or Section 173 Agreement applies to the land, be sure you request a copy of these documents to submit to us.

If you have trouble, call LandData on 8636 2456, or talk to a solicitor or conveyancer for help.


What is the subdivision process?

The subdivision process is outlined here.


How do I appeal a planning decision?

If you disagree with a decision made by Council on a Planning Permit application, you can lodge an appeal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Details outlining your appeal rights are provided on the reverse side of the notice you have received either as an applicant or a submitter to a specific Planning Permit application. Timeframes for appeals do apply so make sure you read your copy of the notice carefully.

Council’s decision on a Planning Permit can be one of the following:

  • A Notice of Refusal
  • A Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit
  • To issue a Permit

Further details and information can be found on VCAT’s website or via phone 1300 01 8228.

When Council issues a Notice of Refusal

  • The applicant may appeal against the refusal. The appeal must be lodged within 60 days of the giving of this notice
  • An appeal is lodged with VCAT
  • An appeal must be made on the Notice of Appeal form (available from VCAT) and be accompanied by the applicable fee
  • An appeal must state what grounds it is based on.
  • An appeal must also be served on the Responsible Authority (Council)
  • Notice of the appeal is to be given in writing to all parties to the appeal as soon as practicable after an appeal is lodged. An objector who appeals must give notice to all objectors. Objectors will be invited to any appeal hearing
  • Details about appeals must be given in writing to all parties to the appeal as soon as practicable after an appeal is lodged. An objector who appeals must give notice to all objectors. Objectors will be invited to any appeal hearing
  • Details about appeals and the fees payable can be obtained from VCAT

When Council issues a Notice of Decision

  • The person who applied for the permit may appeal against any condition in the Notice to Grant a Permit. The appeal must be lodged within 60 days of the giving of this Notice
  • An objector may appeal against the decision of Council (the Responsible Authority) to grant a permit. The appeal must be lodged within 21 days of the date of the Notice of Decision
  • If there is no appeal received a permit will be issued after 21 days of the Notice

When Council issues a Planning Permit

Any person affected may appeal against:

  • A decision of Council refusing to extent the time within which any development or use is to be started or completed
  • A decision of Council refusing to extent the time within which a plan under the Subdivision Act 1988 is to be certified, in the case of a permit relating to any circumstances mentioned in Section 6A(2) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • The failure of Council to extent the time within one month after the request for an extension is made

How to proceed with an appeal:

  • An appeal must be made on a Notice of Appeal form (available from VCAT) and must be accompanied by the applicable fee
  • An appeal must also be served on the Responsible Authority (Council)
  • Details about appeals and the fees payable can be obtained from VCAT

Council understands that planning applications can be extremely difficult and confusing. For any additional information please contact Council’s Town Planning Department on 5382 9798 or

How do I object to a planning permit?

If you believe you will be adversely affected by the granting of a Planning Permit, you can lodge a formal objection with Council.

The objection must:

  • be in writing (this includes email) and provide your full name, address, phone number and email address
  • state the grounds for your objection
  • state how you will be affected by the granting of the permit.

You can include suggestions for changes to the application that address some or all of your concerns.

Objections are public documents and may be made available to the applicant and other objectors during the application process.

Submitting the objection

You can submit your objection using an online form.

Submit an objection 

Alternatively, you can provide a written letter, printed form(PDF, 113KB) or email or and submit it to Council via email, post or in person:

Horsham Rural City
C/- The Statutory Planning Department

Civic Centre, 18 Roberts Avenue
PO Box 511

For more information contact Statutory Planning on 5382 9777 or

Timeframe for submitting the objection

Every objection must be considered before an application for Planning Permit is decided.

When a Planning Permit application is advertised, the Notice of Application (Public Notice) advises that Council will not make a decision for at least 14 days from the date at the bottom of the notice. If you lodge your objection within this time you can be guaranteed it will be considered.

The reality is that most applications are not determined immediately after the 14 days specified in the notice and there will be additional time to lodge an objection. 

Viewing objections to a Planning Permit application

Objections are public documents and may be made available to all parties and should not include any personal information of defamatory comments.

Copies will be made available to parties for the sole purpose of allowing consideration and review as part of the planning process under the Planning and Environment Act 1987.


Mediation meetings are sometimes facilitated by council prior to making decision to ensure all parties are aware of each other’s issues in attempting to resolve grounds of concern and negotiate any changes to proposal.

This provides an opportunity to ensure there is a clear understanding of the planning process and you will be contacted if mediation is proposed.

Planning Permit application decision after receiving objections

Council must consider all objections received up until the time we make our decision.

When Council makes a decision on the Planning Permit application, all parties involved with the application are notified of that decision in writing in what is called Notice of Decision.

The application will be either approved or refused.

  • If objections are received for an approved application, Council must issue a Notice of Decision to grant a Planning Permit. A Notice of Decision is not a Planning Permit. The notice sets out the conditions that Council intends to apply to the permit should it be issued.
  • If Council refuses to grant a Planning Permit, a Notice of Refusal is given to the applicant and all objectors.

All council decisions may be appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal and more information is available on the VCAT website.


What is the process for Section 173 Agreements?

A Section 173 Agreement will generally be a requirement of a condition placed on your Planning Permit. Not all Planning Permits have this requirement but you will need to read the conditions carefully and act on it if required to do so.

A Section 173 Agreement is a legal contract made between Council and any other party or parties, under Section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. There are a number of requirements set by Council and the Title Registration Service that you, as the landowner, need to meet when entering into a Section 173 Agreement.

The Process for a Section 173 Agreement

  • We request your solicitors forward a draft copy of the agreement to the Council Planner involved in your application to ensure that all requirements set by the planning permit conditions have been included. Confirmation that the agreement is suitable to process will be directed to your solicitor.
  • Three (3) copies of the agreement, signed by all parties, must then be submitted to Council for signing by our delegate. One copy of the agreement will be sent back to you, one kept by Council and the third copy is forwarded to the Title Registration Service for registration.
  • A fee for Council signing and sealing a Section 173 Agreement is required.
  • Council wait for confirmation of a "dealing number" (formal proof of registration of the agreement on your Title). Notification will be forwarded to you via your representative when this is received.


How do I prepare or change a Section 173 Agreement?

Preparing a Section 173 Agreement

Section 173 Agreements must be prepared by a legal practitioner. It is at the discretion of the owner to engage someone to prepare the Agreement. An agreement specifies what a person can or cannot carry out. An Agreement will provide for specific requirements set out for Council where a Planning Permit condition may not be enforceable or where there is a specific obligation that is required to run with the Title of the land (so that future landowners are bound by the requirement).

An Agreement may provide for:

  • The prohibition, restriction or regulation of the use or development of the land
  • Conditions which the land may be used or developed for specified purposes
  • Any matters intended to achieve or advance the objectives of planning in Victoria or the objectives of the planning scheme or an amendment to the planning scheme

A Section 173 Agreement may be used:

  • to establish monetary contributions for road construction
  • to prevent the further subdivision of land
  • to provide for the provision of infrastructure
  • to protect native vegetation
  • to provide for maintenance of a facility or property  

The following requirements are set out by the Title Registration Service and should be forwarded to your  to assist in the preparation of an agreement:

  • Attachments must not be included with Agreements. If a reference must be made to a particular plan or permit, simply refer to its reference number, rather than attaching a copy of the document.
  • In some cases, it may be appropriate to attach a diagram or plan. This should be done where only part of the land in a title is affected by the Agreement and the diagram or plan assists in defining the affected part.
  • Any essential attachment must be referred to in the body of the agreement.

Amending an Agreement

There are two ways to amend an Agreement:

1.   Section 178 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 allows the amending of an Agreement by agreement between the responsible authority and all persons who are bound by any covenant in the agreement. This section of the Act would normally only be available where the amending of the Agreement is unlikely to be of interest to any other person.

2.   Section 178A allows an owner of land, or a person who has entered into an Agreement under Section 173 in anticipation of becoming an owner of the land may apply to the responsible authority for agreement to a proposal to amend an agreement in respect of that land. The 178A process must be accompanied by the Application Form for Amending or Ending a Section 173 Agreement(DOCX, 61KB) and the relevant fee. The application can only be made by the owner of the land, and not a representative of the owner. The owner could be represented by another person as a contact.

Once an application is made to amend an agreement, the application cannot be amended.

Council then has to consider whether to provide in principle support as required by Section 178A(3).

If in principle support is provided, notice of the application must be given in the manner required by Section 178C of the Act.

Section 178B outlines the matters to be considered in considering the proposal.

Section 178E outlines the decision Council can make on the application.

Note: Council can, on its own initiative, propose to end or amend an agreement.

Amending a plan referenced in an agreement

If the Planning Permit containing the plan is still valid, there may be an opportunity to amend the plan. You should speak to a Planning Officer to obtain guidance on this issue.


How do I change covenants or restrictions?

A restrictive covenant is a private treaty or written agreement between land owners that limits the way land can be used and developed. It’s not easy to remove a restrictive covenant from a title. It may take considerable time and money, as the public notification process is extensive, and Council may still refuse the application if it receives certain objections. For more details, visit this guide to restrictive covenants.

Where can I find the planning register?