The planning phase is an essential step in any building project. A building contractor needs to be across the applicable planning legislation, including development permits, before lodging the building application.

The Planning Act 2016 aims to achieve sustainable development outcomes by managing development processes and environmental effects, and coordinating local, regional and state planning.

Development applications

Development applications must be completed using approved forms from the State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.

The Department Energy and Public Works also provides a range of useful building forms.


An overlay is a map within a local planning scheme that shows the location and extent of special features. They’re assessed the same way as areas (e.g. residential, industrial) and only need to cover part of the land.

If a building site falls within an overlay it doesn't automatically mean you can't develop. The development just needs to meet the requirements of the overlay code specified in the local planning scheme.

An overlay generally categorises the land as having a hazard, value, resource or other distinguishing factor, such as:

  • Acid sulphate soils
  • Landslide hazard
  • Bushfire hazard
  • Habitat protection.

Overlays may change the level of assessment from exempt or self-assessable to code assessable. This is all dependent on the local planning scheme.

They're essential to keep in mind when you’re building a house, so always check the local planning scheme requirements or speak to your certifier.

Need more information?

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