Enforcing permits

Breaches to planning regulation

Planning regulations protect the urban character and amenity of the City of Stonnington.

To ensure compliance with the Stonnington Planning Scheme and any approved planning permits, we may need to take action if these regulations are breached.

What breaches does Council investigate?

We investigate all identified breaches of the planning scheme and planning permits. They may relate to:

  • Lack of a permit. We will investigate building works conducted without a required planning permit. This may involve unapproved external changes to a property, such as demolition or extension.
  • Non-compliance with planning permit conditions. We will investigate building works inconsistent with the approved planning permit and 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 of a property. We will investigate illegal use of a property or use inconsistent with the Stonnington Planning Scheme or planning permit conditions. For example, if the conditions specify operating hours that are not being adhered to.
  • Changes of land use. We will investigate changes to the way land is used without required planning approval. Examples include:
    •  opening a business without a permit
    • opening a medical centre in a residential neighbourhood
    • serving of alcohol without a permit.
  • Heritage. We will investigate unapproved works and demolition carried out to a property in a Heritage Overlay.
  • Home Based Business. We will investigate a home-based business if it adversely affects the area's amenity. This includes premises and home-based sex work.

How we deal with breaches

For minor offences, wherever possible, planning investigations officers seek to resolve issues through negotiation with the parties involved. When negotiation fails, the Planning and Environment Act 1987 provides for other enforcement options. These options include:

  • issuing an official warning
  • issuing a Planning Infringement Notice
  • applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an enforcement order
  • applying to VCAT for the cancellation or amendment of a planning permit
  • Commencing prosecution proceedings in the Victorian Magistrate's Court.

Serious breaches will be prosecuted.

Breaches relating to trees and vegetation

In 2018, Council adopted a series of new operational protocols and methods for issuing and managing Planning Permits related 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 to achieve greater pre-emptive protection of vegetation in the future
  • review of planning compliance procedures relating to the failure to comply with permit conditions regarding vegetation management.

Read the Council agenda and minutes relating to this new process.

Why do we need these changes?

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.

How will these changes work?

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 or developer that 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 before, or concurrent with, the endorsement of plans under the Permit

As part of this project, Council has also adopted a more rigorous approach to enforcing 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.

Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions on the new process, contact the Statutory Planning Department on 03 8290 3329.

Please refer to the following documents for more detailed information:

Submit a Planning Compliance Investigation Request

Submit a request online