Small Home Addition Approval Period Reduced

As of last week homeowners wishing to add on garages or fences to their homes can do so more easily with a reduced approval period for permits.

The announcement was made last week by Planning Minister Matthew Guy, who said the new VicSmart System will start in September and will now facilitate a quicker process for applying for permits to perform any of 12 listed low-impact construction, removal or alteration activities, allowing homeowners to have their applications assessed under a more streamlined approval system.

The residential construction and alterations industry has welcomed news that the implementation of a new system will result in council officers making decisions within 10 days and these decisions will be made against a pre-determined set of criteria, so the delays which plagued simple plans like garage add-ons, fencing etc. will no longer be an issue for homeowners or contractors.

The construction activities included in the list are

  • realigning a common land boundary and other minor subdivisions,
  • constructing or extending front fences,
  • certain sign displays,
  • car space changes,
  • construction of garages,
  • minor building and works in heritage areas and buildings
  • works up to $50,000 in business and industrial areas.

Under the amendments each council will be allowed to add extra classes of activities to the above list within their individual jurisdictions.

Minister Guy explained that the new system would make it possible for 8500 smaller permit applications annually to be “fast-tracked”. This would allow for local planning departments to save time and resources by focusing on those permits which are more complicated and require more in-depth analysis.

He said in a statement of Victoria’s current planning system:

 “Victoria already has the most efficient planning system in the country and, as we finalise the remaining items of our planning reform agenda, we are ensuring we stay at the top,” Guy said.

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Members of the industry have welcomed the move by the state government. According to Housing Industry Association (Victoria) executive director Gil King the new system is something that they have been calling for a long time. Home owners as well as builders who were frustrated with the old, time consuming system have welcomed the long awaited system and it will likely also encourage and facilitate more home renovations and small alterations, giving the industry a further boost. In fact he expects that the scope of the new system could be broadened in the future, the following excerpt explains:

house-fenceHousing Industry Association (Victoria) executive director Gil King welcomed the new reforms, saying the industry has been pushing for a simpler assessment system for minor applications that still require planning permits for several years.

He said home builders and home buyers have been frustrated by the time taken to obtain planning permission for these types of applications, and he is confident the list of items that could be processed through the new system will be increased in the future to possibly cover new homes and small developments which are fully compliant.

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