Planning terminology explained

Australian Height Datum is an altitude measurement and refers to the height of land above sea level.

A Certificate of Title is a formal legal record about a particular piece of land. It contains basic information about the land, including current ownership.

If you do not have a copy of the Certificate of Title for your land, you can do title search online for a fee.

An easement gives someone the right to use a section of your land for a specific purpose even though they are not the land owner. Easements are usually created to protect assets such as water pipes, electricity lines, telephone lines or sewerage pipes. Another type of easement might be a shared driveway.

An Encumbrance is a mortgage or other claim on property or assets. Other common examples of encumbrances include:

  • Restrictive covenants: A written agreement between owners of the land restricting the use or development of the land for the benefit of others, (e.g. a limit of one dwelling or limits on types of building materials to be used).
  • Section  173 Agreements: A contract between an owner of the land and Council which sets out limitations on the use or development of the land.
  • Easements: Gives rights to other parties to use the land or provide for services or access on, under or above the surface of the land.
  • Building envelopes: Defines the development boundaries for the land.

Aside from mortgages, the above encumbrances can potentially limit or even prevent certain types of proposals.

In building design elevations usually show the outline of the building, opening details and sizes, level datums and floor position. An elevation should give an impression of how one face of the building will look from the outside, once constructed.

Existing use occurs when your land is being used in a legal way, but then subsequent changes to the planning controls prohibit that use.

The Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) guides development across the municipality and helps Council in assessing planning applications. It provides the overarching strategic directions for land use and development, including the application of zones and other planning policies and overlays.

When developers, businesses or residents seek planning approval for development projects, the MSS provides guidance and direction to Councillors and Council Planners as they assess and ultimately make a decision on the proposal.

This is when Council intends to grant a planning permit where objections have been received. A Notice of Decision (NOD) informs all parties involved and includes instruction for how to appeal Council’s decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

Council may advertise your planning application to seek comments from the immediately surrounding community (your neighbours) to see if anyone objects to your planning proposal. This can be done through advertising in the local newspapers, on this website, signage onsite and/or by sending a letter to nearby households.

An overlay is an additional layer of planning control that allows Council to determine the type of development that can occur. Overlays relate to land that has a specific issue or feature, for example, a heritage building, significant vegetation or flood risk

Planning certificates are official statements of the planning controls that apply to a property, including details of the land zoning and any overlay controls or exhibited proposed amendments to the planning scheme.

A planning permit is official permission from Council to make certain changes to your house or property or to use the land in a certain way. The permit includes conditions that outline what you can and cannot do.

A planning scheme sets out policies and controls for the way land may be used, developed or protected, and includes the different planning zones and overlays that exist in a municipality. All municipalities in Victoria have a planning scheme which is based on the Victorian Government’s Victoria Planning Provisions.

This means Council does not approve a planning application and does not grant the planning permit.

Res Code is a residential design code that applies to all land zoned for residential use across Victoria. It covers things like building heights, setback requirements, overshadowing or overlooking and private open space.

A Restrictive Covenant is a private agreement between land owners which may restrict the way land can be used and developed. The covenant will be registered on the land’s Certificate of Title. A planning permit cannot be issued that breaches a covenant, however a planning permit may be issued to vary or remove a covenant if all affected parties agree.

A section 173 Agreement is a legal contract registered on a Certificate of Title which specifies what can or cannot be done on the land. The contract is made between Council and another party, usually the property owner.

The section of the Planning and Environment Act that deals with proposed amendments to a planning permit.