Have you ever wanted to undertake a townhouse development project but lacked confidence in understanding the town planning process?
Well, stick around because in this article I’m going to break down the exact process and share some key thoughts along the way.
By the time we get to the end, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence needed to roll into your first development project.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the town planning process it’s important to note the level of due diligence we undertake on a site before we acquire it is substantial.
Getting the due diligence step right will be critical to ensuring a successful and seamless town planning experience.
Ultimately undertaking real estate developer due diligence stage will play a big part in whether you move forward. It could be over before you even begin.
For the purpose of this article, let’s assume you’ve nailed your site selection and you’re confident you’ll be able to achieve what you are setting out to. It has the parking requirements sorted and everything else you need in order.
It’s time to start the town planning process.
1. Engage Land Surveyor
You’ll need to engage a land surveyor to undertake both a reestablishment and features and level surveys.
These surveys are where the surveyor plots out the existing boundary, land dimensions and various contours and levels of the land.
A title re-establishment survey is broadly the act of reinstating a previously surveyed boundary in the same position as when it was created, taking into account man-made features such as survey marks, fences and building corners.
A feature and level survey review’s the ground level and contours of the land, identifies existing and adjoining structures on the surface including current buildings and fences shows trees and other vegetation and identifies underground factors such as drains and utility services.
It’s not uncommon for your architect (or draftsman) to meet the land surveyor on-site to guide them on what kind of site-specific detail they may require on the surveys.
Engaging these two contractors at the same time and connecting them early on in the project can avoid double handling, missing things and unnecessary delays.
It’s your job as the property developer to facilitate the entire process.
Engaging all the relevant providers as required and ensuring they are talking to each other if and when needed.
2. Engage your Architect
As I’ve just mentioned above, it is important that you do this in parallel with your land surveyor.
Once the surveying is complete and the surveyor sends you the relevant files you then need to forward those files onto your architect.
Your architect will then use the information from the surveys to begin plotting out your project.
3. Engage a Planner
You’ll need to engage a planner to work with your architect.
It’s your planner’s job to provide detailed feedback and commentary around council expectations relevant to the particular municipality.
Some architects do handle both your drafting and planning. If you go down this path it’s critical that your architect has the required knowledge, experience and runs on the board in your specific municipality.
Your architect then completes your development’s preliminary drawings.
4. Town Planning Report
After you’ve been back and forth with your architect and town planner and everyone is on the same page and happy with the proposed designs, your town planner will then complete and finalise your town planning report ready to submit it to the council.
Your town planning report details why you’ve designed what you have with relation to the res code.
5. Application Submission
It’s your town planner’s job to submit your application to the council on your behalf. The application will include your preliminary drawings and town planning report.
Then it’s the waiting game. You sit tight until the council comes back to you with a request for further information also referred to as an RFI.
6. RFI Response
Once you get a request for further information back from the council, you’ll need to work with your town planner and architect to address the queries as quickly as possible.
The faster you can address the queries and submit your response back to the council the better.
How long the council takes to respond is out of your control, how long you take to respond is in your control so don’t mess around here.
Work with your town planner and architect to address the RFI query’s as quickly as possible and then submit them back to the council.
Then it’s the waiting game again.
Assuming you have satisfactorily addressed all of the council’s issues and concerns raised as part of the RFI they will then issue advertising on the property.
Advertising in Victoria is 14 days and it consists of a board with the proposed planning application attached to it being erected out the front of the development site.
This gives the public an opportunity to raise any issues or concerns that they may have with the proposed project.
After 14 days your planner will reach out to the council to see if there have been any objections. So, if there is anyone that is not happy with what you are proposing.
From here it goes either one of two ways. You either have objectors or you don’t.
If You Do Have Objectors
First of council will review the raised issues or objections. From there they may alter their standpoint if they decide the objector has merit.
If they feel the objector has no merit, then they will move forward to the notice of decision.
The notice of decision is a notice that goes to the objectors which gives them 28 days to appeal to VCAT.
Ultimately after 28 days, VCAT will let the council know if there have been any appeals.
If there hasn’t been then the council will issue your planning permit.
If there has been then this will trigger a VCAT hearing.
Something we will cover in another article/video at another time so make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel, so you don’t miss it.
If You Don’t Have Objectors
If you don’t have objector’s council will move forward and issue your planning permit.
Most planning permits come with conditions so your architect and town planner will have to work through the conditions and submit back to council to receive your endorsed plans.
Once you have your endorsed plans the planning process is officially complete.
The next step will be for your architect to get started on all the working drawings and documentation such as engineering and energy etc.
Finally, if you need some clarity around permits check out this article where I explain the difference between a planning permit and a building permit.
Looking to undertake a development project of your own?