How to Get Your Plans Through Boroondara City Council without any Stress
Updated: Feb 12
Navigating local council planning requirements can be one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of the design and build process. Being able to bring your dream home to life hinges on your plans getting the green light. But ticking all the boxes – or even knowing what they are – can be tricky.
Here at Carmel Homes, we have significant experience working through the planning process, particularly with the Boroondara City Council. Based on this, we want to share some advice on how to get through this with minimal stress. We also want to highlight a few key watchpoints that we have seen trip up a lot of planning applicants.
Doing your homework before you submit your plans
Exactly what you need to include in your application will be guided by the applicable overlays and other controls. These will vary depending on several factors, like the size and location of your site and the nature of existing structures. To check the specific requirements your development needs to meet, search for the property details on the Department of Environment, Land, Planning, and Water’s website.
To minimise the need for rework – and the potential for disappointment – it is best to do this early in your planning process. This is particularly true if you are planning to knockdown and rebuild an existing home or other structure. As parts of the City of Boroondara are heritage protected, some properties will not be suitable for a knockdown and rebuild.
Other important preparation activities you will need to complete – or, at least, should consider completing – include:
Sourcing title documents: You will need to include a copy of the Certificate of Title in your planning application. This can be found via the Victorian Landata website and must be less than 28 days old when submitted to the council.
Speaking to the neighbours: As part of their analysis of your application, the council will conduct a period of public consultation. This gives those that live near the site a chance to view your plans and raise any concerns. To avoid unwanted surprises at this point, socialise your plans with your neighbours, and respond to their feedback prior to submitting your application.
Attending a pre-application meeting: As part of their commitment to helping residents navigate the planning process, the council offers free 45-minute application consultations. This is an opportunity to ask any questions you have and confirm that there is nothing you are missing. To take advantage of this, download the Meeting Coversheet, fill it out, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing a cover letter: In addition to the technical documents, it is recommended you submit a cover letter with your application. This gives you a chance to explain the context of your plans and the thinking behind the design. It also allows you to pre-emptively address any questions or requests for further information the council is likely to have.
Maintaining neighbourhood character in the City of Boroondara
The liveability of the City of Boroondara is one of the area’s major defining characteristics and biggest selling points. The council understands this, and local planning laws have a strong focus on protecting the area’s amenity and unique character. As such, it is important that your plans consider the surrounding streetscape and are sensitive to local design traditions.
To maximise your chances of approval, whether a single home or dual-occupancy development, we recommend paying particular attention to the:
Property setback: Most houses in Boroondara are sited well back from the road, with space between the front door and the footpath. This gives the local streets a sense of openness and is something the council looks for in planning applications. So when positioning your new home on your block, aim to match the setback of the neighbouring properties.
Space between structures: Most houses in Boroondara are also subject to side setbacks, which require there to be some space between neighbouring properties. This creates visual separation of the different structures and minimises the risk of issues like overshadowing and overlooking. So, when positioning your new home, also aim to mirror the side setbacks of each of the neighbouring properties.
Front garden space: The council prefers that most of the space in front of a property be dedicated to planting, not pavement. This softens the streetscape, reduces the visual impact of the built structures, and supplements the established greenery. Acknowledging this, you should include a landscaping plan in your application and try to retain as much existing vegetation as possible.
Location of car parking: The council generally recommends locating parking structures behind the property’s main façade. This helps reduce their visual impact and should minimise the amount of hard-surfaced area in front of the property. As such, you should position your garage toward the back of your block and, where possible, enter off the rear lane.
Building height: The council will generally be hesitant to approve new developments that would dominate the streetscape. For example, they are unlikely to support having a grand French Provincial home sitting among more modest single-storey structures. As such, when designing your new home, try to keep it to a similar scale as the neighbouring properties.
Architectural style: The council will generally also be hesitant to approve new developments that are significantly different in style from the neighbouring properties. For example, they may not want to have an ultra-modern home design sitting among more traditional French Provincial homes. As such, when designing your new home, try to find ways to create architectural consistency with the neighbouring properties.
Other important watchpoints before you Submit your plans through Boroondara City Council
Depending on your design, there is a range of other factors you may need to plan around or require permits for. This includes:
Easements: Some blocks will have sections that need to be kept clear and accessible to council and essential services. Known as easements, these sections may contain critical stormwater, water, sewerage, telecommunications, or power and gas infrastructure. They may also support traffic flow through the area, acting as a right of way for pedestrians and vehicles. As you will need to design around any easements, you should check for them early in your planning process.
Protected trees: Trees play an important part in creating and protecting the heritage of the City of Boroondara area. Recognising this, the council is committed to protecting a large number of significant trees and canopy trees. As part of this, if you plan to prune or work near a protected tree, you may require a permit. It is best to check this during your design phase and make sure it is referenced in your planning application.
Roads and footpaths: Much of the infrastructure around your site, like the roads and footpaths, is considered council land. As such, if you will need to store equipment or carry out building works in these areas, you may require a permit. Similarly, if your plans will require a vehicle crossover to be changed, moved, or created, you may require a permit.
Working with a local design and build expert in Boroondara
Without question, the best way to minimise the stress of getting planning approval is to consult an experienced professional. This will take a lot of the guesswork out of the process and should minimise the risk of unexpected surprises. It also gives you access to another pair of eyes who can review your plans and spot potential issues.
When it comes to choosing who to work with, you have a few different options. For example, you could engage a designer to help make sure your plans meet all the council’s requirements. Or you could sign up with a custom home builder who will manage the preparation and lodging of your application for you.
While both of these are good options, we recommend partnering with an experienced design and build specialist, like Carmel Homes. These companies provide a true end-to-end service, supporting you through every step of the process, from initial concepts to final handover. This should make the whole experience of designing and building your new home much smoother and less stressful.
We also strongly suggest you focus on finding someone with significant experience working on projects in the City of Boroondara. This should mean they have deep knowledge of the local planning requirements and possibly even some contacts within the council. They should also understand the unique challenges those planning to build in the area need to overcome.
What’s more, they should have a good feel for local design style and be able to apply this to any style. For example, if you are after a modern home design, they should be able to interpret this through the “Boroondara lens”. This should mean they can help you create a property that suits both your taste and the council’s preferences.
Have more questions on how to submit your plans to Boroondara City Council?
If you are worried about getting your building plans approved by Boroondara City Council, Carmel Homes can help. As one of the leading custom home builders in Melbourne’s east, we have a deep understanding of local planning requirements. This means we can help you maximise your chances of approval while keeping your design tailored to your unique requirements.
For more information on our services or to arrange your complimentary design consultation session, contact our friendly team today.