Planning Investigations and Enforcement

All use and development of land in Baw Baw Shire must comply with the Baw Baw Planning Scheme. When required, Council officers may conduct investigations of planning compliance issues and take enforcement action.

To learn more about planning investigations and enforcement, click the drop-down menus below.

To report a suspected Planning Compliance Issue, click here.

Council's Role in Planning Enforcement

Our Planning Laws are designed to regulate the use and development of land in our Shire, protect and enhance our natural and built environments and support community safety and amenity.

These laws include the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic) and Regulations, the Baw Baw Planning Scheme, Planning Permits issued under the Planning Scheme and Section 173 Agreements entered into between Council and landowners.

Council is both legally authorised and required to enforce the Planning Laws in our Shire.

What do we investigate?

Planning Enforcement Officers investigate uses and developments of land which may be in breach of our Planning Laws. Examples include:

  • Building works occurring without a required Planning Permit
  • Non-compliance with Planning Permit conditions/endorsed Plans
  • An illegal use of land in breach of our Planning Scheme
  • A change of use of land without the required planning approval
  • Actual or threatened unlawful removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation

If you are not sure whether your proposed use or development of land, or works impacting any form of vegetation, will require a planning permit please contact Council’s Statutory Planning team for advice and assistance.

When do we investigate?

Council may investigate a reported planning compliance issue: 

  • In response to reports received by the Planning Enforcement Team. These reports may come from various sources including residents, other Council Departments, and State and Federal Government agencies. 
  • As part of our on-going auditing of land use and developments, current Planning Permits and Section 173 Agreements.
  • Following identification of changes on land using GIS mapping/satellite imagery.

What happens next?

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.

Report a Planning Compliance Issue 

Please complete the form below to report a suspected planning compliance issue. This information is required for Council officers to initiate an investigation. Anonymous or incomplete reports may not be investigated.