The best starting point: speak to your local council
Contact your local council's building or planning department to check what types of permits and approvals you'll need when you want to set up or make fit-out changes to your retail shop, office, commercial or business premises.
Local councils often have specific requirements. Most will want you speak to them before you make any decisions. They'll also be able to tell you if you need a building or planning permit. Speaking to your council is an important step in the process — even if you've been through it before.
Visit Know Your Council to source your council's contact details.
Common planning and building permit applications
Situations where you'll probably need a planning or building permit for a shop or commercial premises are:
- setting up your store, food premises or other business
- changing the existing shop front
- attaching signage to the building
- updating the internal fit-out of your premises
- putting outdoor seating or heaters on a footpath.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) provides information about the steps involved in applying for a planning permit.
What you can do early on
Before you sign your lease or buy your property, it's a good idea to:
- utilise DELWP's Planning Maps Online tool to find out which planning zones and overlays apply to the properties you're considering
- see if your premises has heritage listing on the Victorian Heritage Database. If it does, it may mean extra planning and approvals for modifications
- contact a builder or surveyor using the Victorian Building Authority's practitioner search to answer your questions before making too many plans
- arrange a pre-application meeting with your council planner to highlight any concerns early – and talking with potential neighbours about your plans is a good idea
- see the checklist: location and set up premises for a detailed list of steps recommended to make changes to your retail or commercial premises
- use the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) to work out which licences, registrations and permits your business will need.