• VCAT

June 1, 2019

Tips about planning permits for gyms

Franchise gyms such as ‘Anytime Fitness’  ‘F45’ and ‘9 Round Fitness’ are becoming commonplace in suburbs throughout Victoria. These traditional and classed based fitness centres require planning permits from local councils prior to opening. We have secured planning approval for a vast array of gym types around Melbourne and Victoria including popular gym franchises, ‘Anytime Fitness’ and classed based concepts such as ‘F45’ and ‘9 Round fitness’. Here are some useful tips if you are opening a gym along with what you will need as part of the planning permit process.

Don’t pay more than you have to

Planning approval can take months to be obtained and you don’t want to be paying out for a lease months before the gym is operating. Apply for your planning permit before you begin paying rent or make sure to insert a clause that makes the lease subject to a permit being approved by council. Very often landlords are open to such terms and will offer you the time required to secure a planning permit before you begin paying rent. Make sure to negotiate a good rent free period of at least three months to allow you to obtain the planning permit. 

Anytime Fitness’ is a 24 hour member access traditional gym. The above image forms part of the town planning permit approved by Knox Council in 2013.
A F45 Gym in Malvern that we secured the planning approval for in 2018. Although the application faced numerous objections we were able to satisfy Stonington City Council of the application and the F45 gym was approved.

Talk to your neighbours before lodging an application 

If you have apartments or residential houses next to your premises it is very important to approach them directly to introduce yourself as the business owner and to ask them if they have any concerns with you opening a gym next to them. If you encounter a lot of objections from nearby existing neighbours to things like early class times or loud music then this will make it more difficult to obtain council approval. There is far less public opposition to gyms in existing commercial or industrial areas where there is no existing residential houses or apartments close by. Properties in these locations often receive a planning permit with a lot more ease and within three months of applying to council.   

What you will need for your gym planning application 

  • Development Plans 

You will need floor plans showing the internal layout of the gym along with ‘proofs’ of any signs that will be displayed on the building to advertise the gym. An example of such ‘proofs’ is shown below.

A 9 round fitness gym in Melbourne CBD. We have obtained approval from many gym franchises in Melbourne helping gym owners open their businesses in the ever expanding market.

  • Town Planning Report. 

We complete a town planning report that outlines the proposal and how it complies with the relevant planning scheme. This is a mandatory requirement of the application and includes information about proposed class times, number of staff on site and opening times.

  • Acoustics report. 

An acoustics report may be required as part of the planning application and is done by a qualified acoustics consultant. This report will be a requirement if you have neighbouring residential properties. If your premises is not close to any residential or other sensitive land use then this report will not be required. The report measures the amount of noise that will be caused by the operation of the gym. It will outline how noise will impact the amenity of neighbouring tenancies and the surrounding area and how it will be controlled. As part of this report the acoustics engineer may require you to install noise absorption measures such as rubber flooring or double glazing. This will be particularly relevant for 24 hours gyms or gyms with music and early morning classes which may cause noise disturbance.  

  • Traffic report 

Similarly a traffic report will likely be needed to assess the effect of an increase in traffic from people attending the gym and how this will be managed. A traffic report is likely to be required if you have no off street car parks allocated for patrons of the gym. This is very common for gyms and Council frequently approve planning permits for gyms with no car parks on site. This report is required to demonstrate to council that the absence of car parking will not create a local traffic issue.       

The planning permit process once the application is lodged 

Once the above items have been prepared your planning permit application can be lodged to the local council. On average it takes councils 3 – 4 months to process a planning application and issue a permit. Below is a outline of the steps that occur after lodgement:

  1. A letter will be sent from council informing us that the application has been accepted and allocated to a council town planner to assess. The town planner will be the point of contact at council and will oversee the application from start to finish, ultimately deciding whether to approve it.
  1. Within 28 days of the application being accepted council may request further information.  This is requested in approximately 90 percent of all planning applications. The information request can range from amending parts of the plans to providing additional information to help decide the application.  A deadline will be set for when the information has to be provided and is usually around two months.  
  1. Once the further information has been received by council the application goes to public advertising. A sign is erected on the site advertising the application to the public for a period of 14 days. Council also send letters to neighbours and property owners that will be affected by the application to notify them of the application and give them the opportunity to comment. These comments typically come in the form of objections.
  1. If there are several objections to the application a consult meeting will be held. This is where both the applicant and objectors make submissions to the council. A consult meeting may lead to reduced hours of operation or reduced class times to gain council support.
  1. If there have been objections to the application then a notice of decision (NOD) to grant a permit will be issued. This gives objectors 28 days to appeal the approval at VCAT if they wish. Once the 28 days have lapsed and no VCAT appeal has been made the permit will be issued.
  1. If there have been no objections to the application a permit will be issued with conditions attached to it. Once these conditions have been met the council will endorse the floor plans and ‘proofs’ of any signs. This makes up your full planning approval and you are ready to move on to obtaining your building permit.

Remember the entire process can take 3 months so allow for this when negotiating your lease. If you have a lot of public opposition to your application from neighbours the process will take longer.

If you are opening a gym and want to ensure approval with the help of professional town planners then contact us on 03 98241902 and we would be happy to discuss your project.