Commenting on a development application


Information in this topic is worded in a general way to suit the circumstances in all Australian states and territories.

You will find an explanation of words in italics in 1.2 Planning language.


Most new development requires a development application to be lodged and approved by the planning authority (usually the local council) before it can take place. If the proposed development requires public notification, then a sign will appear on the land and a notice will appear in the public notices section of the newspaper inviting comments from the community about the proposal by the closing date.

The public notification will also state where the application can be viewed, usually the local council office.

Anyone can make a formal comment (also known as a submission) on a development application that is publicly notified. Submissions must be taken into account by the council when deciding the application, provided they relate to assessment against the land use controls and planning principles, rather than personal circumstances.

The planning legislation in your state or territory sets out the minimum requirements for lodging a submission to qualify for third party appeal rights. Generally, these minimum requirements are that the submission is signed, it includes the name and address of the submitter, states the grounds of the submission, and is received by the council before the closing date.

Some development does not require any development approval and some development requires development approval but is not required to be publicly notified. In these cases any comments or submissions you make are not required by law to be taken into account by the council when making its decision.

To be effective your submission should:

• comply with the submission requirements stated on the public notification, including being signed, in the correct format and lodged in the timeframe stated, as well as stating the grounds on which your submission is based;

• focus on planning grounds rather than your individual circumstances. Planning grounds could include your reasonable expectations for the area based on the current planning scheme, impact on your amenity , whether there is a community need for what is proposed, and any environmental issues or economic factors; and

• be clearly structured and as objective as possible.

Individual submissions are generally more effective than form letters or petitions.

What if you don’t agree with the decision?

If you have lodged a submission, the council will formally notify you of its decision to either approve or refuse the development application. If your submission met the minimum requirements set out in your state or territory’s planning legislation to qualify for appeal rights, you then have a set period of time set out in the notification to lodge the appeal.

Related topics:
1.2 Planning language
1.6 Legal framework for planning decisions
2.2 Why participate?
2.3 Making your voice heard
3.6 Appealing a planning decision
3.7 Special cases

More on-line resources:

Planning scheme and development applications:
• Your local council’s website

Planning legislation, planning process, and planning instruments in each state or territory:

We will build this list over time and invite you to contact us with suggested links you are aware of that can be added to this page.

Want to know more?
Is there something more you want to know about this topic? Contact us with your ideas for future inclusion in TOWN PLANNING FOR EVERYONE resources.

©The Planning Academy 2011
Last updated: 9 Dec 2013

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