When a potential planning compliance issue has been reported, the following steps are carried out:
- Planning Enforcement Officers conduct an initial assessment to establish whether the report requires further investigation (e.g. whether the use or activity reported requires a permit, whether there is a current permit in place, what that permit allows, any other planning controls and issues).
- If further investigation is warranted, Officers will then undertake further inquiries and may notify landowners/occupiers of the investigation and may seek information from them and inspect the land.
Depending on the outcome of this investigation there are various options available, including:
- Taking no further action if there is no/insufficient evidence of a breach
- Negotiating voluntary compliance
- Referral to other Council Department for actioning (eg Planning, Compliance, Building Services, Public Health)
- Issuing an official warning
- Issuing a Penalty Infringement Notice (a fine)
- Seeking an Enforcement Order from VCAT
- Seeking to cancel or amend a planning permit in VCAT
- Prosecuting for the breach in Court
Council’s main objective is to achieve voluntary compliance wherever possible, rather than prosecuting offenders. The investigating Officer will determine the appropriate course of action based on a consideration of all the facts of the case.
However, for serious breaches and where Council has secured the necessary evidence (including appropriate cases of native vegetation removal) prosecution will be the most likely course of action.