Enforcing Permits

Planning Compliance and Enforcement Issues

Planning regulations are in place to protect the urban character and amenity of the City of Stonnington. To ensure compliance with the Stonnington Planning Scheme and any approved planning permits, action may be taken with regards to breaches of these regulations.

Stonnington Council investigates all identified breaches of the planning scheme and planning permits. Development compliance issues may include:

  • No permit - Building works conducted without a planning permit where one is required. This may involve external changes to a property, such as a demolition or extension, carried out without the required approval.
  • Non compliance with planning permit conditions - Building works that are inconsistent with the approved planning permit and/or endorsed plans. For example:  
    - window screenings that are not installed as required
    - alterations and changes to wall heights, materials and colour finishes where specified
    - removal of trees or alterations to landscaping other than those approved in the plans.
  • Illegal use - Illegal use of a property or use inconsistent with the Stonnington Planning Scheme or planning permit conditions. For example, if the conditions specify hours that a business can operate are not adhered to.
  • Changes of land use - Changes of use of land, without planning approval, where such approval is required.
  • Heritage - Works and demolition carried out to a property in a Heritage Overlay without prior planning approval.  

Options Available to Council

For minor offences, wherever possible, planning investigations officers seek to resolve issues through negotiation with the parties involved.  However, in circumstances where negotiation fails, the Planning and Environment Act 1987 provides for other enforcement options.

These options include:

  • the issue of an official warning
  • the issue of a Planning Infringement Notice (PIN)
  • an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an enforcement order
  • an application to VCAT for the cancellation or amendment of a planning permit
  • commencement of prosecution proceedings in the Victorian Magistrate’s Court.

Serious breaches will be prosecuted.

Illegal brothels

From time to time we receive complaints and reports of alleged illegal brothels. Council does not deal with illegal brothels, they are the responsibility of Victoria Police.

Should you have concerns about the existence of a illegal brothel, either:


New Tree Protection Process

In 2018 Council adopted a series of new operational protocols and methods to be used in the issuing and management of Planning Permits as they relate to tree retention and landscape implementation.

Work underpinning these new protocols and methods has generally taken place in two parts:

  • Investigation of new permit conditions in an endeavor to achieve greater pre-emptive protection of vegetation in the future; and
  • A review of planning compliance procedures relating to the failure to comply with permit conditions regarding vegetation management.

The Council agenda and minutes are available at the following link:


The purpose of these changes is to provide greater protection for existing vegetation and to ensure that the obligations set down in Planning Permits relating to existing and proposed vegetation are carefully followed.  These new controls follow, and seek to implement, the outcomes sought by Council's Urban Forest Strategy (which was adopted in June 2017).

One of the adopted changes is to require as a condition upon Planning Permits, a requirement to enter into a Deed with Council and provide a Bank Guarantee securing the protection of vegetation to be retained on or adjoining a development site.  A Deed is a legal agreement between the Responsible Authority and the owner / developer, which outlines the agreed requirements for holding, forfeiting and releasing the Bank Guarantee.  The value of the Bank Guarantee will be calculated by applying an arboricultural formula, which considers factors such as the size, health and structure of a particular tree.  The adopted conditions require that the Deed is executed and the Guarantee provided to Council prior to (or concurrent with) the endorsement of plans under the Permit.

As part of this project Council has also adopted a more rigorous approach to the enforcement of tree protection measures, set down in all existing Planning Permits (and associated endorsed plans, including Tree Management Plans).  One of the main changes is to remove the current practice of issuing warnings to permit holders who fail to comply with their vegetation related obligations.  You are encouraged to review the details of these changes within the Report available at the link provided above.

If you have any questions regarding the new process, please contact the Statutory Planning Department on 8290 3329.

Please refer to the attached documents for more detailed information.