10. Planning enforcement

Once your planning permit has been issued, it is Council's responsibility to make sure that the land use or development is consistent with the planning permit conditions.

Types of planning permit enforcement issues

Planning permit enforcement issues include:

  • Building works that are inconsistent with the approved planning permit or endorsed plans, for example, window screenings that are not installed.
  • Illegal use of a property or inconsistent with a planning permit, for example, the operation of an illegal nightclub or a breach of approved hours.
  • Building works conducted without a planning permit, including house extensions in heritage areas.

How Council enforces planning permits

Council operates two areas of planning enforcement: pro-active enforcement and re-active enforcement.

Pro-active planning enforcement

Pro-active planning enforcement involves a targeted audit of planning permits that are issued at Planning and Related Matters meetings or when the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) overturns Council’s decision.

Council also proactively enforces every planning permit that includes an environmental audit condition.

Re-active planning enforcement

Re-active planning enforcement involves situations when a resident or member of the community raises a complaint about an alleged unauthorised development or use of land.

It is an objective of Council to ensure that these complaints are investigated and resolved efficiently. 

How to lodge a planning enforcement complaint

You can lodge a formal complaint to Council about alleged unauthorised development or use of land or a breach of planning permit conditions.

The most efficient and effective way to lodge a formal complaint to Council is by completing the Planning Enforcement Complaint Registration form (DOC 278Kb). Completing this form ensures that all the important information is included with the complaint to help avoid delays. 

You can post your completed form to Merri-bek City Council, Locked Bag 10, Merri-bek 3058 or submit it at a Council Customer Service Centre.

Council also accept complaints by letter or email. In your letter or email, you must include the property address and a clear explanation of the issue and any other relevant details.

You can remain anonymous when lodging a complaint, however it is preferable that you provide your contact details to allow Council to contact you to clarify any issues and to update you on the progress and outcome of the investigation. Your details are kept confidential.

What happens after Council identifies a breach

If a breach is identified as a result of a complaint or through Council's own enforcement processes, the owner of the land is advised in writing of the breach.

Council prefers to achieve voluntary compliance from the owner. However, where a breach is significant or compliance is not forthcoming, it may warrant enforcement action. This action could include:

  • serving a Planning Infringement Notice
  • applying to VCAT for an enforcement order, or
  • commencing prosecution in the Magistrates Court. 

If you are issued with a planning infringement, you can: