{Guest Article} How To Get A YES From Council | Eagle Vision

Guest Article by Darren Comber from DCF Design Group

Did you know that as many as 30% of town planning applications across Victoria do not get approved at council?

This means that many applications are being rejected or required to go through a potential lengthy and expensive VCAT process.

On the increase

With the increase in regulations surrounding town planning approvals in recent years and councils frequently rejecting housing and development applications, it is critical you invest in good advice.

Luckily there is a way of stacking the odds in your favour

Of the 24 planning applications lodged by DCF Design Group in the last two years, we are proud to say that we have had a 100% approval success rate with only two going through to VCAT. Our average approval time for Town Planning submissions is 22 weeks.

How to get a ‘yes’ from council

Recently, DCF were commissioned to develop four contemporary townhouses on a corner property within the Boroondara City Council. This quiet “post war residential area” had little precedence of townhouses or contemporary developments in the immediate area.

The planned building has a significant increase in built form than the existing home. Council planners were very pleased with our proposal – commenting that the level of detail and our comprehensive drawings made their assessment easier.

DCF ensure all major stakeholders are involved and consultants commissioned early giving us a comprehensive overview at a preliminary stage.

How early is too early?

For this project we sought advice from council planners and urban designers early and we mapped out a strategic plan of attack for all stakeholders at the sketch stages – before our client went to any significant expense.

Many of our clients have engaged us to undertake feasibilities on potential sites to assist them assess and understand the development opportunities, before they attempt to purchase.

What’s the purpose of engaging with council early in the process ?

  • to help them realise that you have truly considered their local policy guidelines, strategic framework and the neighbourhood context.
  • show that you are open to their input and the concerns of council, neighbours and have an overall collaborative approach.

Our approach on this project

We have a strategic workflow process which our team follows through all projects. We presented a detailed preliminary scheme, discussed options and explained our design rationale within the context of the neighbourhood and cited examples of relevant local precedence.

All stakeholders had input in the process. Council planners and urban designers had a chance to actively get involved in certain parts of the scheme’s outcome. This was a positive outcome for both our client and
the neighbourhood.

What did Council say?

Despite the significant change in mass we proposed and the neighbourhood sentiment that was resisting change, the project received :

  • strong appraisal at planner, urban design and councillor level
  • thanks from council planners and urban designers for our refreshing approach
  • praise for our comprehensive application which met all the council requirements – its detail, ease of assessment and visual clarity.

The application process

The application process went on to involve more council discussion, intense discussion and explanation with the neighbours and was ultimately supported by council planners, urban designers and the
councillors at the monthly council meeting.

What did the neighbours say?

The neighbours thanked the team for our consideration and complimented us on the design and for making them feel a part of the process.


Finally, the keys points to getting a ‘YES’ for your proposed development from council is to :

  • Have a well considered application strategy
  • Have all stakeholders work in a collaborative partnership
  • Know the needs of the council and the neighbourhood
  • Get council involved early in a collaborative nature

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