Commercial Planning and Development Applications

If you need approval from the Council or another approval body (such as a ‘principle certifying authority’) to a commercial type development you have in mind, eg for building a warehouse complex, applying to use an existing industrial or commercial property for a particular purpose, eg a medical centre, gym, café, restaurant or other retail premises, call us and we can give you an outline of what will be required for your application.

We can also let you know about whether it is feasible in a legal/planning context (we have two qualified lawyers on staff). We will advise you on the best way of going about getting your approval. Approval from Council may not even be required, in relation to some uses/purposes. We will let you know what you can and can’t do with your property and how to go about doing it.

We will review your proposal and advise, assess and strategise your development. If what you want to do is not possible for one reason or another, we may be able to provide you with alternatives to consider.

We can prepare all or some of the necessary documentation for your development. The documents will be packaged and submitted to the Council, so you don’t need to deal with the Council, or its officers at all. We have many years of experience in undertaking these core tasks and we can prepare and submit your application, in many cases saving you time and confusion in terms of understanding the overlapping planning ‘rules’. We can often save you money and a considerable amount of unnecessary concern about where to start.

Other Experts

We can recommend external consultants to you, who you can rely on to provide expert advice and service at reasonable cost. We can engage these experts on your behalf and it will not cost you any more than it would have, if you had engaged the consultant directly (we charge no margin for other expert’s inputs).

Many of the consultants we do recommend, we have worked with for 20 years or more. This may be a registered architect, landscape architect, architectural designer, structural engineer, hydraulic engineer or surveyor.

The Development Application Process

We can manage the development application process for you. The process of preparing an application properly and professionally, results in far fewer ‘log jambs’ when the Council officers come to make their own assessment of the development proposal.

If we have anticipated planning issues before they arise and lodged all of the documents with your DA, it often means that the process at Council can be foreshortened, allowing your builder to get on with the job at a far earlier time than would otherwise be the case.

Steps in the Process

The process for preparing and lodging a development application involves several steps:

  • First you need to explain to us exactly what you would like to achieve, in development terms.
  • We can then consider your ‘wishlist’ and advise you about what may be feasible and achievable based on the relevant planning controls that apply to your land and bearing in mind that each and every land parcel has its own unique character. As an example, your land may be burdened by being bushfire prone, whereas the property next door may not be. Your property may be of such a slope as to benefit from an ‘additional’ height allowance, whereas the next door site may not. There are many factors involved and advice can be provided based on the unique combination of circumstances that apply to you. This results from an intermix of the relevant planning controls and the specific environmental characteristics of your land.
  • Along with your designer or architect, we can then help you to prepare a design that fulfils your wishes, responds appropriately to the planning controls and that is likely to receive an approval from the consent authority (usually the Council, but possibly a certifier). If your proposal involves only say a ‘fitout’ of an existing space and a new ‘use,’ we can prepare the plans in-house, to your own requirements.
  • Depending on the nature of your site we can then engage for you, the necessary experts to allow you to seek approval to the development. The Council usually advises applicants about the requirements for particular expert reports, such as an acoustic report or structural drawings. This may also involve, for example, a survey of the land, a landscape plan, shadow diagrams or an engineering certification.
  • Once all the documents are in draft form (including say, the architectural design drawings) we will review them and prepare ancillary papers including land owners consent, the actual development application form and supplementary plans. We will then prepare what’s called a statement of environmental effects (SEE) for lodgement with the development application. This document outlines the proposal and makes a professional planning assessment of the scheme, even before it is submitted, so increasing you prospects for approval from the Council. In a way, it reduces the work load of the Council planners, resulting often, in a quicker turn around, due to the fact that planning issues have been anticipated and dealt with appropriately. Once all is in order, the application is submitted to the Council.
  • When the application is submitted to the Council it will be forwarded to the various Council departments such as Natural Resources, the Building Department, Health Department and the Engineer’s Section. This is usually done by the planners at Council, with comments being sought from each Department. The Council planners also place the application on notification wherein details about your proposal are forwarded to your neighbours. Your neighbours are invited to make comments about your proposal, either positive or negative.
  • Following from comments from the various Council Departments and receipt of any submissions from neighbours, the council planner will make an assessment of the proposal and prepare a report. If all is in order, then an approval will issue.


We will help you to gain a development approval and then we will help you comply with conditions of the approval and ultimately bring the development to reality.

Complex rules and regulations can cause real problems when dealing with government agencies

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