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Planning Scheme Enforcement

We are required by law to enforce the Bass Coast Planning Scheme, especially if a breach causes detriment to the community or compromises development standards. Council's Compliance and Enforcement Officer investigates non-compliance of the Planning Scheme.

Planning schemes are designed to regulate use, development and protect vegetation where appropriate to meet agreed community objectives. A planning scheme is a law that regulates the way land can be used and developed. As with any other law or regulation, planning schemes are only effective if their requirements are enforced.

Enforcement will occur when there is a clear breach of the Planning and Environment Act, the Planning Scheme, permit condition or Section 173 agreement and the breach warrants enforcement. The main emphasis of enforcement is to obtain compliance rather than on prosecuting offenders, however, punishment for some types of offences may be necessary as a deterrent.

Depending on the nature and seriousness of the problem, the responsible authority can do one or more of the following:

  • Negotiate informally with the alleged offender to obtain compliance
  • Serve a Planning Infringement Notice (PIN) - this is usually for less serious breaches or matters. The current penalty is $805.95 for an individual or $1,611.90 for a company. A PIN is the same as an on the spot fine.
  • Prosecution in the Magistrate’s Court - this may be needed to follow up either an infringement notice or an enforcement order. The court can impose a fine of up to $182,004 plus court costs.
  • Apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an enforcement order to achieve compliance
  • Apply to VCAT for an interim enforcement order where there is a need for immediate action
  • Request VCAT to cancel or amend a permit – for example, for a substantial failure to comply with the conditions of a permit
  • Contempt charges for non-compliance with Enforcement Orders can be heard before VCAT or a Court with fines of up to $151,670 for an individual and $758,350 for a corporation or five year jail terms

Other enforcement options may be available in certain circumstances, including seeking injunctions from the courts or, in rare cases, carrying out works to secure compliance and then seeking to recover the costs.

If you are unsure whether your proposal requires planning approval, or if you need to report a planning infringement, please contact Council's Planning Team on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211.