Regulatory facts, building and planning approvals

Planning approvals

The majority of planning permits are issued by local municipal councils for changing the use of the land, building and works, subdividing parcels of land and other development proposals. In circumstances where a project is considered to be of State or regional significance, the State Government may decide the matter.

The process usually involves public participation unless specific exemptions apply. To minimise delays, applicants are encouraged to meet with the municipal council and relevant authorities before an application is lodged. The Victorian Government can assist by facilitating introductions to key decision makers and coordinating approvals pathways.

Works approval

Certain industrial projects require an approval from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Activities that may require approval include:

  • activities that generate waste which is discharged to the atmosphere, land or water
  • activities where noise is likely to be emitted
  • or any other activity that may cause harm to the environment.

Environment Effects Statements

In Victoria, private and public projects with potentially significant environmental impacts may require an environmental impact assessment through the preparation of an Environment Effects Statement (EES). EES assessments are usually reserved for major developments such as the Port Phillip Bay Channel Deepening project.

Federal Environmental Assessments

Where a development may have an impact on a matter of national environmental significance or where a development occurs on Commonwealth-owned land, an environmental assessment may be required under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).  EPBC Act assessments are usually reserved for major developments such as exploration of the Otway Basin for mineral, oil and gas reserves.

Occupational Health and Safety

WorkSafe Victoria takes the lead role in the promotion and enforcement of health and safety in Victorian workplaces.

This includes the enforcement of regulations relating to plant, dangerous goods and major hazard facilities. In Victoria, certain types of plant must not be used in a workplace unless they are registered with the Victorian WorkCover Authority. The Occupational Health and Safety (Plant) Regulations 1995 provide a complete list of plant requiring registration, for example boilers and pressure equipment.

The Victorian WorkCover Authority may also require you to obtain other licences and approvals particular to your industry prior to commencement of operations. 

Building Permits

Generally all developments that involve the construction of new buildings or the alteration of existing buildings will require a building permit to ensure compliance with building codes and fire protection regulations.

Building permits are issued by building surveyors (Council or private practitioners) and ensure that practitioners are registered, carry insurance and have prepared adequate documentation to correctly construct the building. A building permit ensures that key stages of the work are independently inspected and the building is assessed as completed and suitable for occupation.

Assistance with Approvals

Invest Victoria and Invest Assist work together to help companies through the development approvals process in Victoria, and can provide advice on licence and permit requirements for your project.

Invest Victoria and Invest Assist can also introduce your company to the relevant departments and agencies (such as the local municipal Council, Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria, the Victorian WorkCover Authority and the Department of Economic Development, Transport Jobs and Resources who will be able to provide your company with detailed information on all of the regulations relevant to your proposed investment.