Our planning application process is fully digital. The first thing you'll need to do is register as a user on our eServices website. For large companies, we recommend using a single generic email address, login and password, so all your applications can be accessed from one place.
All plans and reports that form part of an application, including personal information, are available online during the application process. If a permit is issued, the permit and stamped plans are published online. Residents who may be affected by an application will receive a notice by post.
Please contact us on 9240 1111 if you have any questions.
There are a number of steps involved in our planning process, from pre-application to planning decision, although not all applications require every step. You can find out more about each step below.
The numbered process below outlines how residents can best influence planning decisions. You can also download the document below to see a graphic overview of the planning application process.
1. Pre-application meeting
We strongly recommend that you have a pre-application meeting if you are applying for a planning permit.
In a pre-application meeting we can explain the planning process, advise of information requirements and discuss the key issues of your proposal. We will follow-up with a letter outlining everything discussed. This meeting is a great way to make sure you aren't delayed by having to go back and fix things in your application later in the process. The meeting is also a chance to find out if your application meets the requirements of the Merri-bek Planning Scheme. You can find out more about the planning scheme on our Merri-bek Planning Scheme page.
If you have a multi-dwelling residential development, in the pre-application meeting you will also find out if you are eligible for the Design Excellence Scorecard. You can find out more about this scorecard on our Design Excellence Scorecard page.
What information do I need for a pre-application meeting?
The information you need to bring to your meeting depends on the type of development that you are planning.
The document below is a brochure that can assist you to understand the information you may need to provide for a pre-application meeting.
Information you might need to provide can include:
- floor plans showing building footprints, setbacks and property boundaries
- a neighbourhood and site description plan. There is more information about this in theneighbourhood and site description plan brochure (PDF 848Kb)
- an Urban Context Report for apartment developments
- a written statement (which includes the nature of use, hours of operation, number of staff, car parking provided on site and surrounding uses) if you are applying for new use or a liquor licence
Pre-application meeting fees
Pre-application meetings for new businesses or for 1 dwelling are free.
If you have a proposal for 2 or more dwellings, there will be a fee for your meeting. You can find out the details of this pre-application fee on our Planning fees page. When you pay this fee you get access to 2 follow-up meetings, as well as written advice and recommendations.
You can book a pre-application meeting on our eServices website.
Important information about pre-application meetings
Any advice provided at the pre-application meeting is preliminary advice only. This advice may change based on any changes to the design or plans, referral advice, site inspection, public notice and other related matters at our discretion.
2. Submit a planning permit application
For easier lodgement and faster processing, we recommend that you submit your planning permit application online using our eServices website.
If you are unable to apply online you can complete an Application for Planning Permit form (PDF 1Mb).You can submit the filled form, all required documentation and the applicable fee to us by mail (Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058) or at one of our Customer Service Centres.
Please note that we work digitally. If you submit hard-copy documents, we will have to scan and upload them. This means it will take longer to process your application.
What to include with your planning permit application
With your application you'll need to include:
- Plans for your proposed development that are drawn to scale, have dimensions and show the details of all buildings or other structures proposed.
- A current copy of the Certificate of Title for your property that is less than 3 months old. You can find more information about land titles on the Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.
- Details of the permit applicant and the land owner.
- Application details, such as the current land use, the proposed land use and the estimated cost.
- the required fee.
- information on whether a pre-application meeting has taken place.
We have developed planning permit application checklists, which you can find on our planning forms and checklists page.
3. Preliminary assessment
At the preliminary assessment stage we will inspect the property, refer the application to internal business units or external agencies and commence the planning assessment.
Our preliminary assessment may show that there is missing information (e.g. shadow diagrams). An application cannot continue until we have all the information we need. Where this is the case, we will send you a letter by email telling you what is missing.
If we have any concerns or issues with your application, we'll tell you at this stage. They will need to be addressed at this stage in the process or the application may not be supported. There isn’t a second chance to sort out these issues at a later date. Before changing your plans in response to our concerns, we recommend you speak to us to ensure you have correctly understood what the problems are.
We strongly recommend that you have a pre-application meeting so that we can tell you about any concerns or issues before you submit your application.
Providing us with further information
If we request further information, you need to get it to us before the date listed in your further information letter. This email or letter will include a unique link. Follow this link to upload your further information.
If you cannot register on our eServices website, you can send us your further information by mailing Merri-bek City Council, Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058.
If you can't get us the information in time
If you cannot send us your information before the date listed on the letter, you will need to request an extension and explain the reasons for the delay. You can use the same unique link to request the extension or request it via post. If we accept your request, we will notify you of your new due date.
If you miss your further information due date and have not requested an extension, your application will lapse. This means you will have to submit a new planning permit application and pay the fee again.
Changing your application
Based on our feedback, you might want to change your application. You can apply to do this before a decision is made by:
- Applying through our eServices website (under "lodge an application > planning additional requests"), or
- Filling in the Request to Amend an Application for a Planning Permit form (PDF 192Kb) and submitting it and the applicable fee by post (Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058) or in person.
Please note that if you amend an application that has already been advertised, you will need to pay a fee. You can find the details for this fee on our Planning fees page.
4. Advertising and community consultation
If your planning permit application will affect other houses, units or businesses, your application may need to be publicly advertised, including any personal information that forms part of the application.
Where and how an application needs to be advertised
Where and how your planning permit application needs to be advertised depends on what you are proposing.
Planning permit application advertising may include:
- putting a Notice of an Application for a Planning Permit on the land, usually for at least 14 days
- sending letters to the next door property owners and occupiers
- putting a Notice of an Application for a Planning Permit in the local newspaper
We undertake the public notice process and will charge fees. You can find the details for this fee on our Planning fees page.
5. Planning permit application objections
If a planning permit application is advertised near your property or you receive a letter about a planning permit application and you are concerned about the way the proposal may affect you or your property you can view plans attached to the application.
You can view advertised planning permit applications:
- on our eService website
- by visiting Merri-bek Civic Centre (90 Bell Street, Coburg) to see the plans
You can also meet with the planning officer who is managing the application to discuss any concerns you might have. If you would like to book a meeting with the planning officer, you can contact us using the details on our Contact us page.
If English is not your first language there is information in other languages on the back of the notice and you can contact us using Language Link our free multilingual telephone information service to connect through a telephone interpreter.
Submitting an objection to an application
If you have discussed an advertised planning permit application with us and you still have concerns, you can submit an objection.
Although you can submit an objection at any time before we make a decision on the application, we recommend that you submit one during the advertising period.
You can submit an objection on our Planning forms and checklists page.
When you submit an objection, you need to include:
- your name, address, email address and telephone number
- a clear statement that explains why you are objecting to the application, with some suggestions for improvement
- the permit application number and site address if you are objecting by mail or in person
Once you submit an objection, we will consider it while the application is being processed.
Objections can be submitted in different languages and will be translated by Council Officers.
What happens after you submit an objection
When we receive your objection, we will send you a letter confirming that your objection has been received. When submitting an objection its important to know the following things.
Your objection is made available for viewing at Council offices. Anyone can come and view objections while we are considering an application. The personal information like your name, address, email address, phone number and any other information included in your objection will also be able to be viewed.
If a permit applicant or other interested party requests a copy of your objection, we may email or post a copy to them. As part of a transparent process, the applicant or another interested party might want to know about the concerns you have raised and contact you to talk about them. The personal information you've included in your objection will then be provided to them but they must not disclose this information to anybody else, unless they are required to as part of the planning process (i.e. to meet any requirements that VCAT may have if the matter proceeds to a VCAT hearing).
We may also share your personal information with VCAT if the matter you've objected to proceeds to VCAT.
Once an application is decided (including any VCAT appeal period), your objections will no longer be made available for viewing by others.
We will consider your submission when the planning permit application is assessed and send you a copy of the decision.
Who makes the decision?
Planning officers have delegated authority from Council to consider most planning permit applications. If the proposed development exceeds height guidance or has objections from 10 or more different properties, an application may proceed to a Planning and Related Matters meeting, unless the application is for less than 4 dwellings. Petitions are counted as one objection.
You can find out more about these meetings and when they are held on our Planning and Related Matters meetings page.
Community consultation meetings
We try to facilitate good planning outcomes, which is why we encourage you to make suggestions on how the development can be improved.
As part of the assessment, planning officers may contact you to discuss your concerns and may explore changes to the plans with the applicant to address them. In some cases, we may arrange a meeting to facilitate discussion between the applicant and objectors.
Withdrawing an objection
You might have made an objection and then want to withdraw it. This could be because your meeting with us has dealt with your concerns.
To withdraw an objection, you need to to send a letter to the City Development Branch, Merri-bek City Council, Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058.
You need to include your details, the details of the application and a statement saying that you are withdrawing your objection.
See our Guide for Objectors brochure (PDF 318Kb) for more information.
6. A decision on a planning permit application is made
There are three types of decisions that we can make about your planning permit application. We can:
- issue you with a permit to start your project
- issue you with a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit, which means that we support your application if it meets certain conditions
- refuse to issue your permit
If we have issued you with a permit or a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit, you may still need to make changes to your plans to ensure conditions are met. You can do this on our eServices website.
Decisions at Planning and Related Matters meetings
If your application needs to be decided at a Planning and Related Matters meeting, you will be invited to speak at the meeting. Anyone who has made an objection to your application will also be invited.
Planning and Related Matters meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of every month (except January) at the Merri-bek Civic Centre (90 Bell Street, Coburg).
You can find out more about these meetings on our Planning and Related Matters meetings page.
7. VCAT Appeal
If you disagree with a decision we have made about a planning permit application, you can appeal it with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The following options are available for appealing a planning permit application with VCAT:
- if you are the applicant and want to appeal, you must submit an application to VCAT within 60 days of our decision.
- if you are the objector to the application and want to appeal, you must submit an application to VCAT within 28 days of our decision.
When VCAT reviews one of our decisions, it will reconsider the whole application.
You can find information on how to apply to VCAT on your:
- Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit
- Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit
After you apply for a review, VCAT will let you know what their decision is.
Once a VCAT hearing is finished, VCAT will consider all of the material on file and presented at the hearing.
Once a decision is made, a copy of the Tribunal’s order will be sent to all parties by email or mail. This will usually include reasons for the decision.
The Tribunal’s decision is final unless there is an appeal by a party to the Supreme Court on a point of law.
If a planning permit is granted, Council must issue that permit in accordance with VCAT's order. We are responsible for making sure that the requirements of the permit are met.
VCAT decisions are able to be viewed on the Australasian Legal Information Institute website.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has directed Council in its order of 7th September 2021 to make avaliable all documents in relation to VCAT reference P829/2021 Planning Permit no: MPS/2020/674 as soon as practicable after they are received by Council. These documents were received by Council on October 4, 2021
8. Amend your planning permit
You can apply to amend your planning permit if you need to do any of the following:
- amend the conditions of a planning permit
- amend the use or development for which the planning permit was issued
- amend approved plans
Please read the conditions on your planning permit to make sure you can amend it, including the expiry date. To amend the expiry date of your permit, see the section below on extending the time on a planning permit.
When applying to amend your permit, you will need the following:
- a current copy of the Certificate of Title for your property. You can find more information about land titles on the Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.
- your original permit number
- information about whether the development has started
- a clear explanation of the changes that you want to make to your planning permit
- to pay the required fee
- copies of your plans
- an agreement from the property owner to amend the planning permit if you are not the owner yourself
You can apply to amend a planning permit on our eServices website.
If you are unable to apply online you can complete our Application to Amend a Planning Permit form (PDF 248Kb). You can submit the completed form, the required supporting documents and the appropriate fee, by mail (Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058) or at one of our Customer Service Centres.
9. Extend the time on a planning permit
Every planning permit will have an expiry date. You need to finish your development by the expiry date.
If you haven't finished your development by then, you'll need to apply for an extension. This needs to be done either:
- before your permit expires
- within 6 months after the permit expires
- within 12 months after the permit expires, if the development started before the expiry date and you need to extend the time to complete the development.
If you submit your request outside these times, Council and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) cannot extend the permit. You must then submit a new application for a planning permit.
Apply for an extension of time
When you apply, let us know how much time you need to finish your project and why you need the extra time. You'll also need to include evidence that your development started within the time frames listed above.
You can apply for an extension of time on our eServices website.
If you are unable to apply online you can complete a Extension of Time Application form (PDF 217Kb). You can submit the filled form, the required supporting documents and fees to us by mail (Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058) or at one of our Customer Service Centres.
We will let you know if your application has been approved.
There is more information about applying for an extension of time in the following documents:
- Requesting an Extension of Time to a Planning Permit brochure (PDF 121Kb)
- Requesting an Extension of Time to a Planning Permit brochure (DOC 308Kb)
10. Planning enforcement
Once you have a planning permit, it is our job to make sure your land use or development only does what your permit gives it permission to do. There are two types of planning enforcement that might occur.
Proactive planning enforcement
We may do an audit of your development to make sure you are complying with your planning permit. Audits are selected at random and can happen at any stage of development.
Reactive planning enforcement
We will investigate and resolve complaints about unauthorised land use or development.
Lodging a planning enforcement complaint
You can lodge a complaint with us if you believe there has been:
- land use or development in breach of the Merri-bek Planning Scheme
- a breach of planning permit conditions
Lodge a complaint by completing the Planning Enforcement Registration form (PDF 164Kb). You can submit the filled form to us by mail (Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058) or at one of our Customer Service Centres.
We prefer that you include your details on your complaint. We will not share your details with anyone without your consent.
If you do not provide your details we will still investigate your complaint but we will not be able to contact you to clarify your concerns or to update you on the progress and outcome of the investigation.
If you are unsure about whether to lodge a complaint, you can call us on 9240 1111 and ask to speak to a planning officer.
Planning enforcement fines
Depending on the outcome of our investigation, we may issue a Planning Infringement Notice.
If you need to pay an infringement, you can do so on our eServices website. You can find where to pay an infringement under Payments, then Fines and infringements, then select Planning enforcement fine. Make sure you have the details of your fine handy.
Fast track planning permit applications are usually processed in 10 days. You do not need to advertise this type of application.
Only some applications are eligible to be processed as a VicSmart application. You can find out more about VicSmart applications on the Victorian Government Planning website.
There are also useful checklists to help you find out if you quality for VicSmart applications. These checklists are available on the Victorian Government Planning website.
If you do not include all the required information with your VicSmart application and we need to request it from you, your application will take longer than 10 days to process.
Moreland fast track applications
We have our own fast track process for minor proposals that do not qualify for VicSmart.
A proposal will qualify for Merri-bek’s 10 day fast track process if it satisfies all the following:
- it is not a VicSmart application
- it contains all the required information
- it does not require referral to another department or external authority
- it does not require advertising to neighbours
- it is a supportable proposal
To find out if your application is eligible for our fast track process, call us on 9240 1111.
Resources to help with your planning application
The following resources will help you with your planning permit application:
- Urban Planning in Merri-bek: A Guide for Applicants (PDF 155Kb)
- Urban Planning in Merri-bek: A Guide for Applicants (DOC 379Kb)
- How to apply for a planning permit (PDF 123Kb)
- How to apply for a planning permit (DOC 309Kb)
Status of current planning applications and decisions
You can access a range of reports on current planning permit applications and decisions on our eServices website. As soon as we update information in our system, you can view it on our website.
If you would like to see application locations on a 3D map of Merri-bek, go to our Virtual Merri-bek 3D page.
Terms used in planning application reports
Below is an explanation of the terms used in planning application and decision reports.
Our first request for Further Information (FI) before we can consider the application.
Our second request for Further Information (FI) before we can consider the application.
The documents required to advertise the application to the public are being prepared by our administrative staff.
We issued a Notice of Decision to Amend a Planning Permit (NOD). This indicates that, unless a review is lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 28 days of the giving of the notice, we will approve the amendment to the original approved planning permit with the conditions included on the NOD.
We issued approval for an amendment to the original approved planning permit. Other approvals, such as a building permit, may still be required but these are unlikely to involve public input.
We approved an amendment to the application. Our assessment will now proceed on the amended application.
We refused an amendment to the application. The application will now proceed on the basis of the original application.
We issued a refusal for an amendment to the original approved planning permit.
An amendment has been requested to this application and it is currently under consideration.
The application or decision has been appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and is awaiting a hearing.
The application or decision has been appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). We are now required to prepare a Practice Direction (PD) which is a form required by VCAT before a hearing date can be set.
We received the application. The application is awaiting allocation to an Urban Planning Officer and an initial assessment.
Assessment during the application process after the receipt of any further information, an amendment or any other additional requirements.
The Plan of Subdivision has been certified with a Certified with a Statement of Compliance (SOC).
The Plan of Subdivision has been Certified with no Statement of Compliance (SOC). This indicates that certain works have not been completed or consent has not been provided from all referral authorities to the issue of a SOC.
The applicant was required to submit amended plans in accordance with condition 1 of the planning permit prior to commencement of the development. These plans have either not been submitted or were not approved.
An Urban Planning Consultation Meeting is being organised with the applicant and objectors and chaired by Councillors to discuss the proposal.
Our consideration of the application after further information is received and public notification (advertising) has ended.
Further information has not been received. The application may have lapsed.
We received the further information that was requested. The application now awaits further assessment by one of our Urban Planning Officers.
We have not requested further information but has raised some concerns with the proposal which the applicant has been given the opportunity to fix before the proposal advertising or a decision is made.
Application has lapsed and cannot be processed any further. If the applicant wishes to pursue their proposal a new application will have to be made.
An assessment has determined that no planning permit is required.
We issued a Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit (NOD) indicating that, unless a review is lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 28 days of the giving of the notice, we will approve the use and/or development with the conditions that have been included on the Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit.
The applicant has asked us to place the assessment of the application on hold.
Practice Direction (PD) which is form required by Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has been completed.
We have approved the use and/or development proposed by issuing a Planning Permit. Other approvals, such as a building permit, may still be required but these are unlikely to involve public input.
Plans required by the applicant have been endorsed as part of the planning permit.
Our initial or first assessment of application immediately after lodgement has been completed.
Our initial or first assessment of application immediately after lodgement.
Often referred to as 'advertising' the application. We have notified the adjoining owners and occupiers about the application.
The application has been amended and we have notified the adjoining owners and occupiers about the changes.
An application has been lodged to recertify the plan of subdivision.
The Plan of Subdivision has been recertified with no Statement of Compliance (SOC). This indicates that certain works have not been completed or consent has not been provided from all referral authorities to the issue of a SOC.
The Plan of Subdivision has been recertified with a Statement of Compliance (SOC).
Generally for subdivision certification, responses have been received from referral authorities. The site now requires an inspection by our officers.
The statutory referrals have been returned and now the application requires further assessment.
Generally for subdivision certification a copy of the application has been sent to the statutory referral authorities.
A copy of the application has been sent to external statutory referral authorities, who are provided with 28 days to reply. All subdivision applications and some planning permit applications are referred.
We have refused the proposed use and/or development by issuing a Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit.
Report is being written by the Subdivision Officer.
Report has been completed by the Subdivision Officer awaiting signature and preparation of final paperwork.
Report is being written by the Urban Planning Officer.
The applicant has submitted amended plans for approval.
The Statement of Compliance (SOC) for the Plan of Subdivision has been issued.
The application will be decided at a future Planning and Related Matters (UPC) meeting. Meetings are usually held monthly. You can find out more about these meetings on our Planning and Related Matters meetings page.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) told Council to issue the amendment to the planning permit.
A permit issued at the direction of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) refused the proposed use and/or development.
The application for review to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has been withdrawn.
Application has been withdrawn by the applicant.