Common Town Planning Terminology Explained


For the layman person, town planning terminology can sometimes be unfamiliar and overwhelming. To help you familiarise yourself with the plethora of complex town planning terms, here is a cheat sheet that you can refer to whenever you come across some jargon that you may not have heard before.

Read on to find out the meaning behind some of these industry terms commonly used by town planning consultants in Melbourne.

Notice of Decision (NOD)

A Notice of Decision (NOD) is an official notice sent to both the applicant and the objector(s) to communicate the potential decision for the planning permit outcome. NODs are only prepared if an objection was lodged against the application.

There are two different types of Notice of Decisions:

  • A Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit
  • A Notice of Decision to Refuse a Planning Permit

A NOD to grant a planning permit will detail all the planning conditions which will be placed on the official planning permit. An objector can then review the conditions and determine whether they would like to appeal to the Victoria Civil Administrative Tribunal to review the Council’s decision before a planning permit is issued. If the objector would like to appeal, they must do so in 28 days.

Request for Further Information (RFI)

As part of an initial assessment of your planning permit application, the Council may send an RFI to request any further information necessary to decide on your application. Your planning permit application cannot proceed until further information has been provided to the Council.

An RFI will include:

  • The additional information that the Council requires you to provide.
  • A list of the Council’s initial concerns or potential problems with the proposal, if any.
  • The deadline by which this information must be submitted.

Building envelope

A building envelope is a design restriction on the development of a lot that only allows you to build or construct within designated parts of the land. It is registered on the title of the land and is depicted in diagrams, plans or written descriptions, or a combination of these formats. However, not all properties have a building envelope.

If your property has a building envelope, and you wish to build outside of this restriction, you can apply to the Council for permission to do so. All you need to do is submit your title documents, all your development plans, a cover letter outlining your reasons for the request, and pay the application fee of $123.80.

Approval and Endorsement

Although these terms may seem like they mean the same thing, they refer to two different parts of a planning permit application process. When the Council grants a planning permit, it is referred to as an approval. On the other hand, an endorsement comes into play when the Council adopts the plans associated with that planning permit. It is normal for the planning permit to be approved first, followed by the plans being endorsed separately, based on amendments requested by the Council.

Condition 1 Plans

Condition 1 is the first condition in your planning permit – it is these Condition 1 plans that are submitted to the Council for endorsement. The Condition 1 plans outline any changes you must make to your original plans to adhere to the Council’s requirements before the start of the development process. These conditions will only require minor revisions to the original plans and will not significantly alter the development.

If the Condition 1 plans are not resubmitted to the Council, they will not be endorsed – the application will be denied. Meanwhile, the endorsed plans will be utilised to create the construction and structural drawings that will be used during the building process.

Clause 55

Clause 55, or ResCode, is a Victorian Planning Provision and must be included in all Victorian Planning Schemes. It is the main assessment tool for multiple dwelling applications to guarantee they have a minimal impact on the surroundings and neighbouring properties, as well as ensuring future occupants have sufficient amenities. Some of the areas covered in the Clause include side setbacks, overshadowing, overlooking, the character of the neighbourhood, the height of the building, and site coverage.

This clause is only pertinent to applications in the following zones:

  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone.
  • General Residential Zone.
  • Residential Growth Zone.
  • Mixed-Use Zone.
  • Township Zone.

Car Parking Waiver

Generally, when there is a new use or building addition, car parking spaces must be provided. The new use does not need planning approval; it could just be an increase in the floor area of an existing space or building or an increase in an existing use that is measured for the parking such as the number of restaurant customers. An increase in those circumstances may require additional car spaces, but it may not be possible to provide additional car spaces on a developed site – thus, you may need to apply for a car parking waiver.

For some applications, there may also be objections raised about car parking concerns from surrounding residents. While a reduction or waiver of the parking requirements can often be justified and supported by Council, it pays to carefully consider car parking requirements before going too far into a project.

Car Parking Demand Assessment

This assessment is required as part of an application to justify and support a car parking reduction or waiver. The assessment looks at several factors, including:

  • The availability of public transport in the area.
  • The estimated rates of occupants’ car ownership.
  • The varying needs for car parking spaces at different times of the day.
  • The convenience for pedestrians and cyclists to access the site.

Check with your consultant

One of the advantages of utilising town planning services is that you have access to the experts and professionals who will be more than happy to explain any complex town planning terms to you! Town planning consultants make the planning application process easier for you by taking all the heavy lifting off your shoulders. So if you ever find yourself confused by any jargon or terminology, they’re the right persons to ask. Good luck!

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Businessner editorial team is a fast-growing business website with deep financial, media, tech, automotive, and other industry verticals.

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