Understanding Planning Jargon

Section 173 Agreement

A Section 173 Agreement is a legal contract registered on a Certificate of Title. It is placed on a property as a negotiated requirement made between council and another party, usually the property owner, under Section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The Agreement specifies what can or cannot be done on the land. For example the Agreement may state no development is allowed on the land or no subdivision, vegetation on the land must be protected, or that a facility on the land must be maintained.

Australian Height Datum

Australian Height Datum is the nomination of levels on a property and refers to the height of land above sea level.

Certificate of Title

A Certificate of Title is a formal legal record about a particular piece of land. It contains basic information about the land including current ownership. A Certificate of Title also records whether a Covenant or a Section 173 Agreement is registered on the land. It is important that you attach a current copy of the title (no less than 30 days old) so that the title information accurately provides all relevant and up-to-date information.

If you do not have a copy of the Certificate of Title for your land, land titles are held in a public register and can be searched for a fee. You can conduct a title search online at Titles and Property Certificates or visit the Land Information Centre.

Community Infrastructure Levy

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a levy associated to an individual property that is a once only payment required to be paid prior to a building permit being issued for construction of a dwelling. CIL's are applicable in a number of areas within the City of Casey. This is determined by the Planning and Environment Act and only if there is a Development Contribution Plan Overlay (DCPO) applying to the land.

The purpose of the Levy is to fund much needed start up community facilities in the areas in which the levies apply. The amount is not always the same and different areas have different amounts.

Easements

Easements are registered on title and are created to protect assets such as water pipes, electricity lines, sewerage pipes, etc. Easements are usually made out in favour of an authority.

Encumbrance

Encumbrances are identified on the title (register search statement) under the header ‘encumbrances, caveats and notices’.

An ‘encumbrance’ is a formal obligation on the land, with the most common type being a ‘mortgage’. Other common examples of encumbrances include:

  • Restrictive covenants: A written agreement between owners of the land restricting the use or development of the land for the benefit of others, (e.g. a limit of one dwelling or limits on types of building materials to be used).
  • Section  173 Agreements: A contract between an owner of the land and Council which sets out limitations on the use or development of the land.
  • Easements: Gives rights to other parties to use the land or provide for services or access on, under or above the surface of the land.
  • Building envelopes: Defines the development boundaries for the land

Aside from mortgages, the above encumbrances can potentially limit or even prevent certain types of proposals.

Elevation

Elevations are an image that shows the appearance of a building or structure including its height, length, width and dimensions. The elevations are drawn as if you’re looking at the proposed building or structure from the front, rear or side, providing an image of what the development would look like once constructed.

Existing use rights

Existing use occurs when your land is being used in a legal way, either with an approved permit or an approved use where a permit is not required, but then subsequent changes to the planning controls prohibit that use. For example, a factory legally operating in a residential zone because the land was once zoned industrial. Existing use rights can also occur if an illegal use has been carried out on a property for greater than 15 years however there are detailed criteria that need to be satisfied in order to qualify for “exiting use rights.” These criteria can be reviewed by accessing the Casey Planning Scheme Online, selecting the drop down menu titled 60 General Provisions and selecting clause 63 Existing Uses.

Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS)

The MSS or Municipal Strategic Statement will guide development across the Municipality and assist Council in assessing planning applications. The MSS as well as various local structure plans also address things like the provision of local services, amount of open space, impact on parking and traffic, pedestrian facilities and much more.

Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit

This is when Council intends to grant a planning permit  where objections have been received. A Notice of Decision (NOD) informs all parties involved and includes instruction for how to appeal council’s decision to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Notification and advertising period and public notification

Council may advertise your planning application to seek comments from the immediately surrounding community (your neighbours) to see if anyone objects to your planning proposal. This can be done through advertising in the local newspapers, on council’s website, signage onsite and/or by sending a letter to nearby households.

Further details can be found within the Advertising or "Giving Notice" of an Application advice sheet (302kb).

Overlays

Overlays come from the Victoria Planning Provisions and relate to land that has a specific issue. Not all land has an overlay and a single property can be affected by more than one overlay. If an overlay applies, the land will have some special feature such as a heritage building, significant vegetation or flood risk.

If an overlay is shown on the planning scheme map, the provisions of the overlay apply in addition to the provisions of the zone and any other provision of the planning scheme.

Planning certificate

Planning certificates are official statements of the planning controls that apply to a property. They are mainly used to satisfy the requirements of the Sale of Land Act 1962, under which the vendor of a property is required to provide details of the land zoning, and any overlay controls or exhibited proposed amendments to the planning scheme.

Planning certificates do not show the locations of zone boundaries and any additional site specific controls. It is therefore important to contact council and check the planning scheme text for information on planning provisions and controls. The Casey Planning Scheme can be viewed on Planning Schemes Online.

Statements of the zoning and overlays relating to a property can also be obtained at no cost in a Planning Property Report. These statements however do not have the same legal status as a planning certificate.

Planning permit

A planning permit is essentially official permission from Council to make certain changes to your house or property or to use the land in a certain way. Permits can be issued for use or development in residential, commercial and rural areas. This may include building a new fence, adding a second story onto your home, building a second dwelling on the land or subdividing the property. The permit includes conditions that outline what you can and cannot do in relation to those changes.

Planning scheme

A planning scheme is a legal document that sets out policies and controls for the way land may be used. For example, what development is appropriate for housing or a shop/business, and what the height of a building should be and how much open space should be provided. All municipalities in Victoria have a planning scheme which is based on the State Government’s Victoria Planning Provisions.

Res Code

ResCode is a set of planning scheme provisions that applies to residential developments across Victoria. Clause 54 to 54.06 relates to the construction or extension of an existing dwelling on a lot, depending on the size of the land. Clause 55 to 55.06 relates to the construction or extension of two of more dwellings on a lot. These criteria can be reviewed by accessing the Casey Planning Scheme Online, selecting the drop down menu titled 50 Particular Provisions and selecting clauses 54 or 55.

Restrictive Covenant

A Restrictive Covenant is a private agreement between land owners which may restrict the way land may be used and developed. This will be registered on the land’s Certificate of Title. Council cannot issue a planning permit that breaches a covenant, however a planning permit may be issued to vary/remove a covenant if all affected parties agree.

Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit

This is where council does not approve a planning application and does not grant the planning permit. A refusal can be appealed to Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Section 72 Amendment

This refers to proposed amendments to a planning permit and/or for endorsed plans. Amendments of this nature are generally considered to be significant and can include proposed changes to what the original permit allowed. These amendments can be advertised. More information on how to amend a planning permit can be found on the Application to Amend a Planning Permit page.

Secondary Consent

This refers to wanting minor changes made to your plan(s) only, where a provision for change has been included in your permit conditions. For example, some planning permits include conditions which end with the phrase “…must not be altered without the written consent of the Responsible Authority.” This means that you can apply in writing for secondary consent to make minor changes to your plans. More information on how to amend a planning permit via secondary consent can be found on the Application to Amend a Planning Permit page.

Site and floor plans

Site and Floor Plans are an image which is drawn looking at the building from above.

Statutory planning

Statutory planning also known as town planning, is the team responsible for considering applications for a planning permit, such as an application to build or extend a property, replace a fence, open a business or construct an advertising sign. Applications for planning permits are assessed against the policies and controls in the Casey Planning Scheme.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning is the team who considers and developing the policies and controls that make up the Casey Planning Scheme and looks at the longer term vision and direction of Casey including buildings, open space, economic development, location of services and transport.

Setback

A setback describes how far back a building or house is on a piece of land in comparison to the property boundary. So if the boundary is from the edge of the footpath, the setback is measured in metres from this point.

Subdivision

Subdivision refers to a piece of land that has been divided up to create more properties. For example a large piece of land on one title could be subdivided and redeveloped to have two or three dwellings on it, each with their own title.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal - VCAT is a State Government appointed panel of experts that independently reviews planning decisions made by councils. If a developer, applicant or objector is unhappy with a council planning decision they can appeal at VCAT.

Zones

Zones allocate land for different uses, such as residential, industrial or business. They outline what the land can and can’t be used for and what buildings and works on that land may require a planning permit. Zones come from the Victoria Planning Provisions and have the same requirements across all municipalities in Victoria. Zones may also have schedules which can allow a local municipality to vary some requirements of the standard zoning provisions.

In each zone and schedule to a zone which contains a table of uses, the controls over the use of land are divided into three sections being Section 1 Use, Section 2 Uses and Section 3 Uses. More information about these sections can be found by accessing the Casey Planning Scheme Online, selecting the drop down menu titled 30 Zones and selecting clauses 31.01, 31.02 or 31.03