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Factors That May Be Dragging Out Your Planning Appeal

Your planning appeal’s timeline will rely on several factors. Understanding what affects your timeline will help you prepare for this complex process.

Developers often have one question in mind before submitting their planning appeal:

“How long will the planning appeal take?”

Unfortunately, besides being the most frequently asked, this question is also the most challenging to answer.

It’s because the process is quite complex and goes through many steps and different people. This makes the planning appeal unpredictable and, more often, longer than you would expect.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach some sound conclusions about the length of the process. Especially if you understand the factors that can delay it.

Now, much of the time will be spent waiting for specific actions from the administration.

On average, applications can be resolved in as little as three months to over a year. Still, every case will be unique.

This article will look at the main factors that can drag out a planning appeal. Understanding these factors will help you prepare for the process and know what to expect.

Planning Appeal Process Time and Overview

Generally speaking, we can place every project in one of three categories – it can be simple, medium, and complex. And the time the planning application takes will depend on the complexity.

Now, simple projects that involve a basic change of use and include minor additions and amendments should take no longer than six months.

Medium projects, such as developments of new commercial buildings, will involve significant dwelling additions. And such projects will usually take six to nine months.

Finally, complex projects that involve three or more dwellings, including apartment buildings, could take anywhere from nine months to over a year.

These estimates will vary from one project to the next, but they can serve as a good point of orientation.

In terms of appeals, it would be best to clarify what the process looks like and the particular steps it entails.

To start with, an appeal to a planning decision is made if you can’t agree with the decision or if it took more than eight weeks to make the original decision.

It’s worth mentioning that planning appeals are by far the most common type of appeals. They can be made in written form, through a hearing, or, if the case is exceptionally complex, through inquiry. Written appeals are the fastest ones to resolve on average.

When the appeal comes in, it’s left to the council to reach a decision on the case.

Council Time Limits

According to the Planning and Environment Act of 1987, the council has a time limit of 60 days to decide on a planning permit. Otherwise, the case can be subject to the “failure to determine” appeal. 

However, this period is misunderstood by many.

To be precise, the 60 days in question aren’t, in fact, 60 consecutive days. Rather, those are statutory days, which makes all the difference.

While you can calculate the statutory days, the process is somewhat complicated. 

First of all, statutory days include only the time during which it was possible for the council to make a decision. Simply put, certain periods are excluded from the calculation.

That said, any time between making the application and providing further information to the council won’t count. The same goes for the period prior to any amendments to the application. Other circumstances can also factor into the calculation as well.

In fact, this matter was complex enough for the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to publish a tool for calculating statutory days, which you can find on this link.

The precise time frame might vary from state to state. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a precise way of determining the state-specific time frames other than contacting your local council.

Factors Affecting Planning Appeal Time Frames

As you might expect, the complications around statutory days don’t exhaust the list of factors influencing the time frame. 

Another crucial element of the equation is how efficient the council is at the time of your application. 

Councils can experience staffing issues that can block their regular function. At the same time, they can be very focused on functionality, putting plenty of effort into reducing the system bottlenecks. 

More forthcoming councils will go as far as to advise their customers of processing times, which can be particularly helpful.

Now, another factor can still come into play in terms of your project time frame. Namely, getting a permit doesn’t mean the town planning is completed. 

Planning permits often come with certain conditional changes. And these will be mandatory before the permit becomes actionable. 

In other words, you’ll need to amend the plan and submit it again to the council to receive the final endorsement. 

Fulfilling these conditions and gaining the endorsement will also vary in length of time. Still, you can expect that phase to be completed in about two to six weeks.

Obviously, local authorities will have the greatest impact on the time frame. However, there are some factors that, in most cases, won’t have an effect on your timeline.

For example, the type of appeal won’t make much of a difference. Whether you appeal due to refused planning permission, prior approval, or on another basis, the time frame won’t differ much.

The same goes for the development type. Your application might concern change of use, retail and services, or commercial development, but its duration will be pretty much unchanged.

Similarly, the development size won’t affect the time frame.

If You Can’t Speed Up the Process, Learn What to Expect 

Since much of your time frame will depend on the council, there won’t be much you can do to speed things up on that end. But you can come into the process fully prepared. 

This preparation could turn out to be worth your while. 

Doing your due diligence could significantly reduce the back-and-forth between you and the council. You can also prepare all of the required information in time and come up with a comprehensive planning report. Providing ample information to the council will mean you’ve done everything in your power to shorten the process as much as possible. 

You can also work with a town planner to speed up the process. Here’s what you need to know about town planners in Australia.

Ultimately, proper preparation can improve your planning appeal’s time frame and save a considerable portion of your budget.

Another thing you can do to speed things up is to optimise your planning process. If you can make your planning as efficient as possible, your chances of being approved sooner will increase. 

And Archistar can be of great help in that regard.

Archistar speeds up your planning time by up to 30 times faster with our database of over 25,000 sources in planning and zoning laws. 

Find out what planning rules apply to your sites of interest and assess them for feasibility. This will help maximise the chance of your development being approved and to speed up your project!

If you’re ready to speed up your planning appeal process, contact us to book a demo today.

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