What you need to know about planning rules for a garage

What you need to know about planning rules for a garage
Getting the permits you need for your new garage can be overwhelming. The permits can be very technical and complex which can put off people looking to add value, make their home more functional or add extra space to their property. Learning the difference between planning and building can give you a better understanding of the permits and requirements you may need for your garage.

What is a planning permit?

Planning looks at the way land is used and developed and considers any impacts on the overall character and liveability of the area. A planning permit is a legal document that enables you to use or develop land in a specific way, and can include conditions or codes to comply with that will ensure a smoother application process and build. 


Most sheds or garages don’t normally require planning permits, but when they do, the planning permit needs to be approved before you can acquire a building permit. 

What is a building permit?

Building considers safe construction practices, building regulations and other relevant Australian standards. A building permit is written approval by a private or municipal building surveyor, allowing the building work to proceed based on approved plans and other required documentation.


You will need to get a building permit if your potential garage or shed meets these specifications:


  • It has a floor area greater than 10 square metres

  • It’s three metres or more in height, or it’s situated within one metre of a boundary and is more than 2.4 metres in height

  • It’s located further forward than the front wall of the single dwelling

Why are planning rules for garages important?


Every property is located within a zone, whether residential or commercial. Each zone may include planning overlays, which consists of standards that protect and maintain the environmental and natural landscape of that area. This can affect the planning scheme provisions that are outlined for each zone, especially if that zone has more detailed overlays. Depending on your location, this can impact the permits you will need in order to commence with your garage build.


Consulting with shed and planning experts can help you navigate through the planning schemes of your local council and identify whether or not your garage plans require a planning permit.


Deciding to forgo the paperwork and permissions can be stressful and costly since a structure built without the required planning permit can result in the council issuing an enforcement notice, a legal document served against unauthorised developments. The property owner will then have 30 days to tear the structure down or get a planning permit.


Taking the time to understand the rules and the process for a planning permit application will help to ensure that your garage building progresses as planned and gives you peace of mind knowing you have met all the local council regulations.

What’s the process for getting a planning permit for a garage?


This is the general step-by-step process for acquiring a planning permit. They vary depending on your local council so always check in with your council office to know what they need. The steps here follow an outline using the standard information from Victoria Planning:


  1. Prepare for the application. Your local council planner can advise you on your application. You can take it further and consult with planning professionals to make sure your proposal meets council standards. Consider talking to your neighbours and give them time to discuss any concerns about the proposed build so that they can be resolved now, rather than later.

  2. Submit your application. Once you’ve completed the form and have provided all the details needed, pay the application fee and lodge your planning application.

  3. Council to notify affected parties. The council will assess your application and notify any relevant people of your plans. This can include neighbours who may be affected by the development or referrals if the development affects other authorities or bodies.

  4. The application is advertised for 14 days. Your proposal is now considered a public document. Once the relevant people are informed of your application, they will have at least 14 days to inspect your proposal through “advertising”, which is the notice of a planning application.

  5. Council will assess the application. Council will consider any objections as well as referral comments. They will negotiate with the permit applicant before preparing their report.

  6. Council will give a decision. The council may issue a permit with conditions, a notice of decision with conditions or a refusal.


The council may skip some steps (particularly steps 3-5) if they believe that development won’t do any harm to a person or if the planning scheme doesn’t require a notice. 


Unlike a building permit where you can accomplish all the requirements and be confident in getting the seal of approval at the end of the day, there are no guarantees with planning permits.  Even if you tick all the right boxes, the council still retains the right to reject a planning application, depending on how the proposal is received.

Planning rules will have different provisions depending on your local government which is why consulting with planning professionals can help to simplify the complex process. 

“Most people have very minor interactions with the planning world,” shares James Cavill, a senior planner at The Planning Professionals. “We take it from your hands and get you the final decision at the end of the day.”

Should a planning permit application be rejected, the property owner has the right to make an appeal to VCAT if they still want to push through with their proposal.

If you’re ready to start planning and building your dream garage, give Shed Bonanza a call and we’ll help you sail through the planning application process so you can get started on building your shed that much faster.