The difference between planning and building

Planning and/or building permits may be needed for any development work you are intending to do on your property. Understanding the difference between planning and building will help to ensure you apply for the correct permits.


Planning considers the way land is used and developed, and how this impacts the character and amenity (liveability) of an area. A planning permit allows for works such as subdividing land, development and use, tree removal, or operating a business or other commercial activity. Planning permits are issued by Surf Coast Shire, VCAT or the Minister for Planning. 

If you are unsure whether a planning permit is needed, visit our page Do I need a Planning Permit?


Building is concerned with safe construction practices, and considers whether the construction work conforms to Building Regulations. A building permit may be required for a structure, fence or retaining wall. A building permit is a legal document, issued before construction commences. It ensures that the building meets the minimum requirements for the health, safety and amenity of occupants and the public. Within the Surf Coast municipality, private building surveyors issue building permits and conduct the appropriate inspections.

For more information on building permit requirements, use our Do I Need a Building Permit guide.

Permit Requirements

If you do require a planning permit, you will then need to get a building permit after the planning permit is issued.

If you don't require a planning permit, you may still need a building permit.