Pre-applications: Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the purpose of the pre-application process?

The pre-application process is a two-way conversation between you (the permit applicant) and Council’s planning officers. This provides you with a better understanding of Council policy and officer’s views. This process also provides our officers with a better understanding of your proposal. After a pre-application process, you should be clear on what Council expects and the upcoming planning assessment steps. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss your proposal. 

What are the benefits to the applicant of the pre-application process?

From the pre-application process, you will receive: 

  • A clearer understanding of relevant planning policies and guidelines; 
  • Clarity on the planning assessment process; 
  • Merits-based advice to help refine your proposal prior to applying for a planning permit; 
  • A point of contact within the Statutory Planning team. 

How does the pre-application process work?

The below diagram explains the steps and timelines for the pre-application process:

Diagram of pre-applocation process

Who is likely to benefit from a pre-application meeting?

If you have no or limited experience with the planning system, please get in touch with the Statutory Planning team – planning can be complicated but we are here to help.

Upon reviewing your request, planning officers will advise of next steps.  

  • For more straight forward matters you should expect a call and follow-up email.  
  • For more complex matters, we will prepare a formal written response. Where a meeting might help, this will also be arranged. 

A meeting will typically be required for these application types: 

  • Three dwellings or more (with or without the subdivision of the land); 
  • Larger scale commercial and industrial developments (with or without the subdivision of the land); 
  • Significant alterations to a heritage building; 
  • Complex schemes with a value of $5 million or more 

If your proposal is not in this group, then you probably don’t need a meeting. 

If you would like pre-application advice in relation to a larger scale scheme let us know what documentation is required.  

To make sure we have enough information, we prefer these documents ahead of a meeting:  

  • A brief written summary of your proposal; 
  • A plan showing all relevant site opportunities and constraints. 
  • Detailed drawings, including dimensioned floor plans, elevations and sections (as necessary); 
  • Where relevant, details of the current use of the land as well as the proposed use. This includes: 
    • The nature of the use(s); 
    • Operating hours; 
    • Number of employees; 
    • The anticipated car parking requirements and vehicle movements generated by the use/development. This includes staff and visitor parking, waste collection and delivery arrangements; 
  • The ESD/sustainability credentials of the use/development. This might include solar devices, water harvesting measures and bicycle parking facilities. 
  • Any other technical information relevant to your proposal. This might include the preliminary advice of a Heritage, Acoustic or Land Contamination consultant for example. 

How long will the pre-application process take?

Where you don’t need a meeting, a call and follow-up email or written response is provided within 14 days of your request. The complexity of your request will determine the type of response provided. 

Where a meeting is necessary, we will send an invite within 48 hours of your request. Meetings will be held within 14 days of your request. A written response, setting out the key matters discussed, will be provided within 21 days of the meeting. The total process takes about 5 weeks (but might save more time than that on your planning assessment). 

What should I do to prepare for the pre-application process?

To help us give you the best advice, we encourage you to: 

  • Generate a Planning Property Report for your site. This shows all relevant planning controls 
  • With reference to the Planning Property Report, review the Ballarat Planning Scheme, including all relevant controls and policies that apply.
    • The Ballarat Planning Scheme has Local and State policies that our planning officers will discuss with you – they might be important for your proposal.  
  • Obtain a current copy of title for the land. Any relevant restrictions are on the title. This will assist in understanding if encumbrances outside the planning process exist. These encumbrances could affect your proposal. 
  • Have a conversation with your neighbours – they will probably receive notice of the assessment, so it can help to gauge their thoughts. They might provide feedback on their own plans, trees they like protected, or other things you hadn’t considered. 

Where do I start the pre-application process?

To start the pre-application process, please answer the question “Do you have a title and plans/a sketch or other documents detailing your proposal?” by Selecting “Apply Now” contained at the bottom of the "What you need to know" page

Who can I contact to find out more?

If this all sounds a bit scary, don’t worry, our friendly staff can assist. Planning officers are available at the Statutory Planning counter (The Phoenix, 25 Armstrong Street South, Ballarat) on business days, between the hours of 9am to 4pm.

If you are not able to visit our offices, planning advice can also be obtained from the planning officer on duty by calling 5320 5107. We look forward to hearing from you.