Planning FAQs

What are the steps in the planning process?



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. 


Do I need a Planning Permit?

The Planning Scheme consists of zones, overlays and other provisions which determine whether a permit is required. To check which zones and overlays affect your property, visit VicPlan Planning Report Search.
Generally, a permit is required for:

  • subdivision of land
  • development of land in rural areas
  • extending your home
  • constructing a dwelling on a lot less than 300m2
  • building two or more dwellings [units/townhouses] on one lot
  • starting a business
  • changing the use of your land or buildings (e.g. shop to a medical centre or warehouse to a gym)
  • constructing outbuildings and sheds in rural areas
  • commercial or industrial development
  • applying for a liquor licence
  • constructing or displaying signage
  • waiver or reduction of car parking (associated with changing the use of the land or increasing the floor area of the building)
  • creation, variation or removal of easement or restriction
  • removal of a tree, removal of vegetation, native and/or introduced

You should not assume that any works, however small, do not require a permit.

What are the Planning fees?

The planning fees are outlined here.(PDF, 220KB)

Do I need a Planning Permit to remove a tree on my property?

A Planning Permit is often required if you wish to remove or prune trees or:

  • other Native vegetation on your land;
  • Non-native species of vegetation if the property is within a Heritage Overlay or Environmental Significance Overlay;
  • if there are Planning Permit conditions or other restrictions or agreements that apply to your property.

It is important you talk to Council before you remove any vegetation.

Your application will have the best chance of being approved if: 

  • you demonstrate there is no other option but to remove the trees/vegetation.
  • the overall impact of the vegetation removal on the surrounding landscape and ecology of the area is minimal.
  • tree/vegetation removal has been minimised, with good quality vegetation and significant, healthy trees being successfully retained.
  • you are willing to work with Council to develop a revegetation plan to provide replacement planting that achieves a long-term environmental gain (this can be done through our biodiversity offsets program).
  • the revegetation plan has been prepared by a professional consultant after talking to Council and includes detailed information from an arborist or ecologist.

The following link will provide more information on exemptions:

 Exemptions from requiring a planning permit to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation

Do I need a Planning Permit to put up a fence?

When proposing to build a new fence, there may be a requirement for a Building and/or Planning Permit. Prior to applying, it is important to discuss the proposed fence with any neighbours who share the same boundary.

Common reasons that require a Planning Permit for a fence include:

  • the fence is in an area where heritage controls apply
  • the fence is in a flooding zone or overlay

Please note: Regulations concerning the cost sharing of boundary fences is a civil matter and is outside Council’s jurisdiction. You will find further support at

Do I need a Planning Permit to construct an extension to my house or shed?

In certain areas a Planning Permit may be required for the construction of a single dwelling or extension and/or additions to a single dwelling. The need for a Planning Permit may be triggered by zoning such as Commercial Zone, or overlay controls such as Heritage Overlay, or the size of the land.

Common reasons for needing a Planning Permit for an extension to a dwelling include:

  • The lot is in a Rural Living or Farming Zone;
  • The lot is less than 300m2 is an urban area, and
  • There are overlays such as Heritage Overlay, Bushfire Management Overlay or Land Subject to Inundation Overlay affecting the lot, and
  • There are covenants or restrictions on the Certificate of Title for the lot.

Can I discuss the development potential of a property with a Council Planner?

Council offers a Planning pre-application advice service. This allows you to book a meeting with a Council Planner or submit for written advice and gain valuable feedback prior to the application being formally lodged.

For information on how to access this service, see the Seek Planning Advice page.

What Planning restrictions apply to my property?

Each individual property has a set of Planning controls which specify when a Planning Permit is required. Every application for a Planning Permit requires you to provide a current Certificate of Title (less than 3 months old), which will include details of any obligations affecting what can be done on or with the land. To find out what controls apply to your property, you can:

What zoning applies to the land I am interested in?

Every property is zoned to provide rules as to how the land can be used or developed. A property generally only has one zone.

Common zones include:

  • residential zones (such as the General Residential Zone, Township Zone, Low Density Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone, and Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone)
  • industrial zones
  • commercial zones
  • rural zones (such as the Farming Zone, Rural Living Zone and Rural Conservation Zone)
  • public land zones (such as the Public Use Zone, Public Park and Recreation Zone, Public Conservation and Resource Zone, and Road Zone)
  • special purpose zones (such as the Special Use Zone, Urban Floodway Zone and Urban Growth Zone).

Zoning aims to avoid conflicts between different types of land uses and ensures that development is appropriate for an area.

Some properties also have overlay controls. Overlay controls may protect heritage or show areas that require special considerations, like those prone to fire or flooding.

You can confirm the relevant zones at VicPlan.

What are overlays?

Overlays operate in addition to zones. An Overlay may seek to achieve certain design and building standards for the land, including:

  • bushfire
  • environmental
  • land management
  • heritage
  • flood issues
  • parking

Not all land is subject to an overlay. If an overlay applies to a parcel of land, it may specify additional requirements in relation to subdivisions, buildings and works, vegetation removal and other matters.

You can confirm the relevant overlays at VicPlan.

My property has never flooded, why does the Floodway Overlay (FO) or Land Subject to Inundation (LSIO) affect my property?

The Floodway Overlay (FO) identifies land in in both rural and urban areas that, during a flood event, would allow the passage of flood waters or the store flood waters. The Land Subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO) have a lower flood risk than FO areas.

The FO and LSIO require a planning permit for certain developments and the subdivision of land.

You should seek advice from the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority before apply for a Planning Permit.

Do I need an architect or draftsperson to draw my proposed plans?

Council encourages all plans be drawn by an architect or draftsperson and be of a professional standard. Plans must include all the required information and be drawn to scale. 

For further information about the requirements when preparing plans to be lodged, please review these sample plans.

What is the Planning Permit application fee?

Planning Permit application fees are statutory fees made under the Planning and Environment (fees) regulations - these fees are not set by Council. The fee must be paid to Council, as the responsible authority, for consideration of a Planning Permit application. Payment of this fee does not guarantee you will be granted a Planning Permit. You can find more information about Planning Permit application fees using the link below.

Vic Planning and Subdivision Fees

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

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 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 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 extend the time within which any development or use is to be started or completed
  • A decision of Council refusing to extend 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 extend 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.


Where can I find the planning register?

What is a building envelope and can it be changed?

Sometimes when land is subdivided, a building envelope is placed as a restriction on the title of the land or endorsed plans. A building envelope illustrates an outline of that portion of the lot where buildings can be constructed. To find out if a building envelope applies to a property you need to obtain a copy of the Certificate of Title to the land.

Council does not keep records of property titles. To obtain a copy of the Certificate of Title to the land, visit the Landata website. The Certificate of Title will detail whether you can apply to Council to construct outside of the prescribed envelope.


I want to build a house and a shed; can I build the shed first to store materials or live in whilst the house is being built?

If a shed is proposed on a lot without a dwelling, this may be classified as another form of land use such as a store which:

  • may be prohibited by the zone; or
  • may require you to have a planning permit.

Living in a shed is often seen as a cost‐effective and practical option while building a house. However, it is illegal to occupy a shed or garage for residential purposes unless Building and Planning Permit approvals have been obtained to construct a permanent residence on the site.

Any shed proposed to be used for temporary accommodation would also need to comply with the Building Code requirements for residential buildings.

Residential buildings require a higher standard of construction and significant and costly upgrade works will usually be required.

Can I run an Air BNB from my property?

In Victoria, local councils have not sought to control short-term letting or visitor accommodation in an existing residence through local planning schemes.

Do I need a Planning Permit for signage?

More often than not, a Planning Permit is required for signage (i.e. business identification signage). If you require a Planning Permit for signage you will need to determine what zone applies to the land and if there are any overlays affecting the property.

Each zone will specify which category of signage controls apply. Clause 52.05 of the Planning Scheme will advise what types of signs require a Planning Permit, what signs are prohibited, and what signs do not require planning approval.

How long does it take to assess my application after lodging?

Once you have lodged a complete application with council, the assessment will follow the Statutory Planning process. The time it takes to assess will be dependent on the complexity of the proposal, the applicant’s response to any request Council makes for further information. It may also be impacted if the application needs to be advertised to surrounding properties or referred to authorities.

You can contact Council for guidance on the level of complexity and the expected timelines.

Can I amend an active application?

Proposed amendment/s to an active (undecided) Planning Permit application or active amendment application can be made under section 50 and section 57A of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

 An amended application may need to be re-referred or re-advertised depending on the amendment. This will extend application assessment times.

I have received a Notice of Decision (NOD) to grant a permit. Is that a Planning Permit?

No. A Notice of Decision (NOD) to grant a permit indicates that council is proposing to grant a permit when there are outstanding objections.

An objector has 28 days from the date the NOD was issued to appeal council's decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). If no appeal is lodged, a Planning Permit will then be issued.

An applicant has 60 days to apply to review any of the conditions included in the proposed Planning Permit. The applicant must notify council and all objectors if they apply to VCAT to review any of the conditions of the Planning Permit.

How do I lodge an appeal against Council's decision at VCAT?

You can appeal council's planning permit decision by contacting the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). An application for appeal must be made within the prescribed time periods.  VCAT - Planning-Apply.

I was issued a Notice of Decision (NOD) to grant a permit. I have called VCAT and no appeal has been lodged. Can Council issue my permit immediately?

No, council cannot issue a permit until the appeal time has expired. Visit the VCAT website for more information


I have received a Planning Permit with a letter saying that the plans to be endorsed under Planning Permit conditions must be submitted. What does this mean?

If your Planning Permit has been approved with conditions, you will not be able to act on the permit until the plans and other documents have been endorsed.

Submit your plans or documents online, or directly at Council’s Customer Service.