Most land uses and development require the consent of local councils (sometimes called ‘planning authorities’). Such consents are called ‘planning permits’ or ‘planning approvals’. Development of land includes the carrying out of any building, engineering, mining or other operations on land. It also includes demolition and making any material changes in the use of the land or buildings or works upon it.
It is a good idea to contact the council to find out whether planning approval is required for any use or development. Council will also provide advice on the information that will need to be provided regarding the proposed development. Every local council in Tasmania (currently 29 in total) has a planning scheme that can be viewed by the public.
Many councils provide specific application forms for planning permits. The application form will need to be accompanied by plans describing the proposed development in enough detail to allow a person viewing them to understand all the implications of the proposal, such as provision for parking, amount of vegetation to be cleared, effect on neighbours, and impact on traffic.
Applications for discretionary developments (that is, developments that a council can permit or refuse) are advertised in a local newspaper and a notice must be posted on the development site. You may have noticed these signs on house fences or sites indicating the plans for development and the right to lodge an objection with council. Any person can make a representation to the council regarding the likely impacts of the proposed development.
When assessing a development application, councils must take into account any representations they receive and all matters specified in the relevant planning scheme. If a planning permit is granted, it may be subject to conditions to manage the impacts, such as provisions for landscaping, parking or improving access arrangements.
Building permits are usually required in addition to a development permit. The regulation of construction, alteration, or demolition of buildings is governed by the, the Building Act 2000 (Tas) and its regulations (Building Regulations 2004 (Tas) and Plumbing Regulations 2004 (Tas)).
The Building Act 2000 provides that the National Construction Code is the legal technical standards for all building and plumbing work in Tasmania. The Code has provisions relating to materials, building methods, fire safety designs, and energy efficiency requirements.
The definition of building work is extensive and covers new work, additions, alterations and the demolition or partial demolition of any building. That would include structural alterations to houses, and some fences and sheds.
Most new work in Tasmania will a building permit and approval of the local council is required before any work may be undertaken.
There are some exceptions including maintenance or very minor work (such as garden sheds, low fences and some low retaining walls) that do not require a permit so it is desirable to check with the council to see whether you need building approval. Regulation 4 of the Building Regulations 2004 provides a list of structures and building work that are exempt from the need for a building permit.
Applications for building permits are lodged with the local council and must be accompanied by an application form and detailed plans and specifications. A building surveyor will certifiy likely compliance with the NCC. A system of accreditation (licensing) of building practitioners was introduced in 2004. That includes the responsible designer, the building surveyor and the builder.
Enforcement for illegal building or plumbing work
If work is done without a permit, penalties may be imposed and Building Orders or Plumbing Orders may be issued by the council preventing any further work being carried out or requiring unauthorised works to be removed.
Appeals over building or plumbing permits and matters in respect of carrying out of building or plumbing work are heard by the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT).
Councils or other relevant authorities may also take action in the Supreme Court to enforce planning by means of an injunction preventing unlawful building activity. Planning appeals, although unlikely to be initiated for new buildings, are discussed below.
Development Applications and Environmental Impact
The assessment of development applications and associated environmental impacts are conducted within one integrated assessment process: the Resource Management and Planning System (RMPS). This integrated process includes the assessment of individual developments with respect to land-use planning, under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (LUPAA); and an assessment of environmental impacts under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA) (see also Environment).