West Coast Council - Planning FAQs - Gateway to Tasmania's Wilderness
West Coast Council

Planning FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - PLANNING

1. What legislation regulates the planning permit process?  

Planning and development in Tasmania is regulated by a series of acts that are known collectively as the Resource Management and Planning System (the RMPS).  The main act governing planning in Tasmania is the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

2. What is the difference between the Building Permit and the Planning Permit process?     

The Building Permitprocess regulates the construction and alteration of buildings by assessing the proposed work against the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).  Plumbing permits are usually part of the building permit process.  You should always check with Council before commencing any building, plumbing or repair works.

The Planning Permitprocess regulates the use and development of land by assessing proposals against council planning schemes and the State's planning legislation. The planning approval process focuses particularly on the impact of a proposal on the site and neighbouring land.  It addresses the following sorts of issues:

  • complying with planning scheme requirements
  • causing overshadowing or loss of privacy to neighbours
  • keeping an appropriate distance from property boundaries
  • building to a scale and size appropriate for the area
  • providing adequate car parking
  • creating any access or traffic safety issues
  • business hours of operation as appropriate for the area
  • any environmental constraints that need to be considered.

A Building Permit is required for the vast majority of structures and buildings with the exception of some minor structures such as small fences, some repair works and minor alterations.  Demolition also requires a Permit.  The Building Regulations 2004and the Plumbing Regulations 2004 set out those building and plumbing works that do not require a Permit.

3. When do I need to get a Planning Permit?  

You usually need to get a Planning Permit , also commonly referred to as a Development Application (DA), Planning Approval, Development Approval or Development Permit, from your local council whenever you want to:

  • develop land
  • use land or buildings for a different purpose
  • extend the existing use or buildings.

The council planning scheme details the types of use and development that require planning approval and what are exempt.  You should always contact the council to find out whether you need planning approval for any use or development you might be considering.  Council will also give you advice on the information you will need to provide. 

Defining Terms: 'Use,' 'Development' and 'Works':  When talking to council planning officers you will hear the terms 'use', 'development' and 'works'.  These terms have specific legal meanings under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (LUPAA).

  • 'Use' in relation to land means 'the manner of utilising land, but does not include the undertaking of development'. Section 3(1) LUPAA. {Act}
  • 'Development' means:

'(a) the construction, exterior alteration or exterior decoration of a building or works; and

(b) the demolition or removal of a building or works; and

(c) the construction or carrying out of works; and

(d) the subdivision or consolidation of land, including buildings or airspace; and

(e) the placing or relocation of a building or works on land; and

(f) the construction or putting up for display of signs or hoardings.'       Section 3(1) LUPAA.

  • 'Works' is referred to in the definition of development.  In this context it means 'any change to the natural or existing condition or topography of land including the removal, destruction or lopping of trees and the removal of vegetation or topsoil, but does not include forest practices as defined in the Forest Practices Act 1985, carried out in State forests.' Section 3(1) LUPAA.  
4. What if my property is heritage listed?  

Having a heritage listed property does not mean it cannot be changed or improved; it means that any modifications will be thoroughly assessed to ensure the heritage characteristics of the property are preserved.

Council Planning Scheme listing:  If your property is heritage listed in the local council planning scheme you will usually need to obtain planning approval for any use or development of the site.  In most cases this will be a discretionary application. This means that the application can either be approved or rejected by council and will be publicly advertised for 14 days to allow anyone to make a representation to council on the proposal.

Tasmanian Heritage Register:  Your property may also be listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.  Council officers should be able to tell you if it is, or you can check the Australian Heritage Places Inventory.

If your property is listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register it is considered to be of state heritage significance and is protected under the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995.  To develop such a site, in addition to the council approval, you will need to obtain approval through a works application to the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

Works applications are usually lodged with the local council at the same time as the planning permit is lodged.  The local council then sends all the information to the Tasmanian Heritage Council for assessment.  This saves 'doubling up'.   There are no fees for submitting works applications to the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

You can appeal a Heritage Council decision to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT).  The appeal must be lodged within 40 days of the notice of the decision being given. 

5. How do I apply for a Planning Permit?  

To apply for a Planning Permit you must lodge an application with your local council.   An application form needs to be filled in and submitted, together with plans and documentation indicating what the proposal is about and demonstrating compliance with the planning scheme, a copy of the title and title plan.

Before you submit the application you should talk to council planning officers about your proposal.  The officer will give advice on the parts of the planning scheme relevant to your application and the information you need to provide to assist them.

It would also be wise to talk to your neighbours and inform them of what you are proposing, especially if the proposal will need to be advertised.  Most neighbours appreciate the courtesy of being informed and it provides an opportunity to become aware of potential problems and perhaps sort them out before you are committed to a particular design.

If your application is straightforward and, for example, involves a change of use with little structural alterations to the existing building, you may not need professional assistance.  In many cases though, it is wise to get professional assistance with the application, especially where detailed drawings and/or site analysis are required.

6. What do I need to include in the planning application?

When lodging an application you usually need to submit the following:

a) A completed application form.  If you are not the owner of the land, under Section 52 (1) of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 you must provide a declaration that you have notified the owner of the intention to make the application;

b) A full copy of the title including details on any restrictions, easements or covenants on the title.  This can be obtained from the Office of the Recorder of Titles, Service Tasmania offices or via the Land Information System Tasmania, commonly known as the LIST;

c) The appropriate fee  

d) Three copies of the plan, drawn to scale, and including the following details:

  • North point
  • floor plan for each level (usually 1:100) indicating internal layout and placement of windows and doors
  • elevation details indicating height of building, location of windows and doors, materials to be used and colour of materials on external surfaces
  • site layout (usually 1:200) indicating (as relevant):
  • location of buildings
  • access
  • parking and manoeuvring area
  • distance from boundaries
  • contours
  • trees to be removed
  • location of buildings on adjoining lots
  • buildings to be demolished if relevant
  • rights of way or easements
  • cut and fill
  • open space
  • landscape plan.
  • Other details may be required depending on the Planning Scheme and requirements of the Planning Application.

For commercial and industrial uses, additional information is likely to be required such as:

  • information on type of materials or goods to be produced or stored
  • waste produced and its management
  • machinery being used and likely noise emissions
  • hours of operation
  • number of employees.
  • an Environmental Management Plan

If you need assistance with completing your application, contact council's Planning Department. 

7. How is the planning application processed?  

Once a planning application is received it must be assessed against the council planning scheme requirements and for compliance with the provisions of relevant State Policies.

The council planning officer usually examines the plans and also conducts a site assessment, checking the plan details and the likely impact of the proposal on the streetscape and adjoining properties.  This also includes a site visit. The council engineer will check details relating to vehicular access, parking and traffic impacts.

Depending on the type of development proposed, the council environmental health officer will check issues such as site drainage, waste disposal and any licensing requirements to ensure that any requirements of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA) are met.

8. How long does it take the council to process the application?

Legislation requires councils to process a planning application within a maximum 42 days but many applications take less time to process.  Processing times vary depending on:

  • the complexity of the application
  • the number of applications already being considered by the council
  • whether all of the necessary information has been provided
  • whether the application is a 'permitted' or 'discretionary' one.

'Permitted' applications   

'Permitted' application means any proposed development or use that complies with the provisions of the planning scheme and thus under Section 51 of LUPAA must be granted a permit, with or without conditions. 

Section 58(2) of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act (LUPAA) requires a council to grant a permit, with or without conditions, on any permitted application within 42 days of the application being received by the council. 

This time frame can be extended by a written agreement between the applicant and the council.  This agreement must occur before the 42 days are up.

A 'permitted' application does not need to be advertised, thus no third party appeal rights exist.  The applicant must be informed of council's decision within 7 days of the permit being granted.  The applicant may appeal any condition of the permit.

'Discretionary' applications   

Section 57(1) of LUPAA requires council to make a decision on a discretionary application within 42 days of receiving it.  In that time, council must advertise the application and allow 14 days for representations to be received. Council must consider those representations and decide either to refuse the application, approve it or approve it subject to conditions.  The council may extend the 42-day time period with the approval of the applicant.

The Land Use Planning and Approvals Regulations 1993 requires a discretionary application to be advertised by:

  • notice in the newspaper
  • notices put up at each public frontage of the land
  • notices to each adjoining owner and occupier of land. {Act}

The applicant may appeal the decision and anybody who has made representations may also appeal the decision to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) (commonly referred to as 'the Tribunal'). 

9. How do I find out about the planning application?  

Council is required under Section 57(1) of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (LUPAA) to advertise any 'discretionary' applications it receives for a period of 14 days.  Under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Regulations 1993 a 'discretionary' application is required to be advertised by:

  • notice in the newspaper
  • notices put up at each public frontage of the land
  • notices to each adjoining owner and occupier of the land.

All discretionary applications are advertised in accordance with the Act with a full copy of the application and plans on display at Council offices and Service Centre's with a notice placed on site within public view and a copy of the notice sent to adjoining owners and occupiers of the land.

'Permitted' applications do not need to be advertised as there is no third party right of appeal.  

10. How can I object to a planning application?     

You can only object to a planning application if it is a 'discretionary' application.  This means it must be advertised and persons have 14 days from the date of advertisement to lodge an objection with Council. This must be done in writing and should state the reasons why you object to the application.

11. Will I be notified if there is a development proposed next door?

If the application is a 'discretionary' application you will be notified.  Under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Regulations 1993 a 'discretionary' application must be advertised by notice in the newspaper, notices put up at each public frontage of the land and notices to each adjoining owner and occupier of the land.

12. If I don't agree with council's decision what can I do?

If you are the applicant and unhappy with the council's decision, either because your application was rejected or you consider the attached conditions unacceptable, you can lodge an appeal with the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT), (commonly referred to as 'the Tribunal').

If you are an objector and lodged a representation to an application within the 14-day appeal period and are unhappy with council's decision, you can also lodge an appeal with the Tribunal.

13. How do I lodge an appeal with the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal?     

Planning appeals are lodged with the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT).  The RMPAT is an independent tribunal established under the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal Act 1993 (RMPAT), and is commonly referred to as 'the Tribunal'.

Under Section 61 of The Land Use Planning and Approvals Act (LUPAA), you must lodge an appeal with the Tribunal within 14 days of receiving notice of the council decision.  To do this you must fill in a form which can be obtained from the Tribunal offices at Level 1, 144 -148 Macquarie St, Hobart, Ph: 6233 6464.  

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11 Sticht Street (PO Box 63)
QUEENSTOWN TAS 7467
Tel: (03) 6471 4700 : Fax: (03) 6471 4720
Email: wcc@westcoast.tas.gov.au
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