• VCAT

August 9, 2022

What is Public Notice of a town planning application?


Public notice, also referred to as ‘advertising’ of an application is a standard step of the council application process where the local council give notice of your application to the public.

How is notice given?

A direct mail out to abutting landowners is the most common way council give notice of an application. A letter in the mail addressed to the registered proprietor of a site and the occupier is sent via Auspost and this one page letter contains information about the application. The information provided includes:

  • A description of what is being applied for;
  • How the plans can be viewed;
  • How any submissions or objections can be made;
  • The closing date for submissions to be received by Council.

Council have discretion to choose which abutting owners will receive a direct letter. Typically those properties that share a boundary with the development site and those directly opposite the site will receive a letter directly from Council.

In addition to a mail out, council will ordinarily require a poster to be erected on the subject site for 14 days to notify the general public about the application. A poster will ordinarily be up to A3 in size and contain the following information:

  • A description of what is being applied for;
  • The name of the applicant;
  • How the plans can be viewed;
  • The closing date for submissions to be received by Council.

What happens during the notice period?

This period allows members of the public or abutting land owners to make submissions to council about how the proposal may affect them. Typically these are known as objections but submissions of support can also be made by members of the public. Landowners who receive a direct mail notification about the application are not obliged to respond if they do not wish to do so.

How long does the period last?

Public advertising will typically last 14 days, this period is extended at Christmas time to reflect the fact most people are on holidays during this period and away from home.

How do Council treat planning objections?

Objections are common for planning applications and Council is obliged to consider the submissions before issuing a decision on an application. For an objection to be seriously entertained by Council there must be some demonstrable material detriment to the objector by the grant of the permit. Planning objections that are from an ‘in principal’, ‘Not in my backyard’ perspective are given very little weight in the assessment of an application.  

Do the number of objections influence the outcome?

The number of objections should not influence the planning assessment of the proposal under the planning and environment act 1987 and the local council planning scheme. From a political perspective it is common for particularly contentions applications to attract a ground swell of local resident opposition and this can lead to the politicisation of the town planning process.

Can late objections be considered?  

Typically council will consider any objections lodged up until the date they issue a decision. This applies even if the closing date of the notice period has passed.

How can I avoid objections?

Objections to town planning applications is common and sometimes it is too difficult to establish a middle ground between parties. We encourage you to discuss your plans with your neighbours before you lodge an application. You might not reach agreement with your neighbours, but engaging with them in a proactive way can avoid the objection escalating to a VCAT appeal after the council issue their decision. If you have received objections to your proposal our skilled advocates can undertake mediation on your behalf and seek to resolve the issues before they result in an unfavourable result.