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What's the Planning Process?

Planning Process Overview

For information on the Planning Process, please view this guide - Planning process overview.

Alternatively, expand the steps below.

Step 1: Pre-Application Assessment

What to expect

Before lodging and application, run through the Pre-Application Assessment to ensure the application meets the requirements and can be processed efficiently.

At this stage, based on the application type, you might speak to or meet with an officer to help prepare effectively. This will be determined through the pre-application assessment tool.


Pre-application assessment for a simple application usually takes up to 14 days. Complex applications may take 14-21 days to prepare depending on the scheduling of an appointment with a planner and any internal referral comments being obtained.

Step 2: Lodgement

What to expect

Preparation and lodgement of an application are undertaken at the discretion and timing of the applicant.


There is no standard time frame, it is common that the time between initial design with your architect and actual documentation ready for submission to Council to take 6-12 months and sometimes longer. Please utilise our pre-application service once you have preliminary plans ready to help identify major issues or information requirements to help minimise the risk of delays.

Step 3: Initial assessment and referrals

What to expect

The planning officer will undertake an initial assessment of the application.

Depending on the complexity of the case, and any applicable regulations at the site of the property, the planning officer may need to refer the case to other departments.


Initial assessment and referrals usually take 7 to 28 days to complete. For complex applications it can take longer.

For applications that need referrals the process may take up to four weeks to coordinate responses from internal and external departments.


Not all applications require referrals.

If your application meets the following criteria, it is unlikely to require referrals:

  • Potential issues identified by planners that have been addressed by the applicant at the pre-application stage
  • Straightforward applications such as those that meet VicSmart eligibility
  • External referrals not needed under the planning scheme (this considers what the applicable overlays are at the proposed development site, which you can check through the VicPlan website.
Step 4: Request for Further Information (RFI)

What to expect

The Planning officer may request further information from you based on the completeness of your application. You can minimise your chance of receiving an RFI by following any pre-application advice.


Once the planning officer issues a request for information, applicants usually have 30-60 days to respond. If the requested information is not submitted within the provided time frame, the application will lapse and you will need to re-lodge everything and pay the fee as if it were a new application.


Not all applications require RFIs.

If you application meets the following criteria, it is unlikely to require RFIs:

  • Submit complete applications that address all guidance from pre-application.
  • Follow checklist requirements.
  • Pay fees on time and as part of your original application documents.
Step 5: RFI Response

What to expect

The applicant submits the requested information.

Planning officer reviews submission to determine if it is satisfactory.

You can speed up the review of your response by providing all the requested information at the same time in the one package.


The planning officer typically take 7-14 days to assess the RFI response once received.

For applications that need re-referrals other departments, the process may take up to two weeks to coordinate responses from internal departments (e.g. Waste Management, Development Services/Engineering) and up to 4 weeks for external departments (e.g. VicRoads, Melbourne Water).

You may be requested to provide more information based on your RFI response, especially if changes are significant.

Step 6: Advertising (Formal Public Notice)

What to expect

If advertising of an application is required, a sign is placed on site and letters sent to adjoining owners and occupants. Residents concerned about the application may submit an objection.

In some instances, your planning officer may encourage early public engagement at the pre-application stage (Step 1) to reduce the likelihood of advertising and/or objection later on.


Advertising takes approximately 21 days comprising 14 days of formal notice to neighbours (e.g. a sign on site and/or letters to adjoining properties) and approximately 1 week for generating the list of properties to notify and awaiting the applicant to return the Statutory Declaration (and the planner to review it) at the conclusion of 14 days

You may need to amend your application based on objections.

Step 7: Assessment and Decision

What to expect

The Council will consider any application and referral comments against planning scheme provisions, negotiate with the permit applicant (if appropriate) and issue a decision.

The Council will decide permit conditions, provide a Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit with conditions or provide a notice of refusal.

Please note that a Notice of Decision is not a planning permit. It is a legal notice that is issued when the Bass Coast Shire Council supports the planning application. The notice may involve conditions.


The assessment of the application by Council or Council Officers will usually take 7-21 days after advertising to deliver a decision (Notice of Decision, Refusal or Planning Permit). This time frame may be longer for complex applications e.g. ones with lots of objections, or applications that need to be determined at a Council meeting (held once a month). Please contact your allocated officer at the conclusion of advertising to get an estimated time frame for when a decision may be expected given a planner's workload varies each week based on incoming applications at that point in time.

Step 8: Review by VCAT

What to expect

The applicant can apply to VCAT to review any conditions imposed by council or to review a refusal of application. Alternatively, an objector can lodge an appeal with VCAT when a Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit has been issued by the Bass Coast Shire Council.


For Fast Track Applications, a hearing will be scheduled approximately 9-12 weeks after the application was submitted with a decision issued within 2 weeks for straightforward cases and 6 weeks for more complex cases.

For Short Cases Applications, it may take 12-14 weeks (3 months+) for a hearing, however, due to the impacts of COVID-19 this may be longer. A short cases hearing and outcome normally occurs within 1-2 hours with the decision usually made at the end of the hearing date.

For Major Cases Applications, you will be asked to attend a Compulsory Conference (mediation) which may not occur for 2-3 months after an application with VCAT. Following the Compulsory Conference a decision is usually made several weeks after 9 weeks (2 months+).

Step 9: If applicable, Council issues the permit

What to expect

Once a decision has been made and the review period has expired, the Bass Coast Shire Council will issue a planning permit. Please note that other permits (such as building permits) may also be required.