Planning Enforcement

Planning schemes are designed to regulate use, development and protect vegetation where appropriate to meet agreed community objectives. A planning scheme is a law that regulates the way land can be used and developed. As with any other law or regulation, planning schemes are only effective if their requirements are enforced.

The Responsible Authority (Hindmarsh Shire Council), is required by law to enforce a planning scheme.

When is enforcement appropriate?

Enforcement should occur when there is a clear breach of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic), the planning scheme, permit condition or Section 173 Agreement and the breach warrants enforcement, especially if it causes detriment to the community or compromises development standards.

The main objective of enforcement is to ensure compliance rather than to prosecute offenders. However, punishment for some types of offences may be necessary.

Please see the next section for examples of breaches. 

What types of issues are in breach?

  • Illegal use of a property
  • Illegal native vegetation removal
  • Building or works on land conducted without a planning permit (building permits are handled by the Building Team)
  • Building or works that are inconsistent with approved plans or conditions on a permit
  • Earthworks where the Planning Scheme conditions are not satisfied
  • Use of land that requires a permit or that is prohibited in the land zone

Enforcement Options

Depending on the nature and seriousness of the problem, the Responsible Authority can do one or more of the following:

  • Negotiate informally with the alleged offender to obtain compliance;
  • Administer Official Warnings;
  • Serve Planning Infringement Notice (PIN)-usually for less serious breaches or matters. (A PIN is the same as an on the spot fine);
  • Pursue prosecution in the Magistrate’s Court - This may be needed to follow up either an infringement notice or an enforcement order;
  • Apply to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an enforcement order to achieve compliance;
  • Request VCAT to cancel or amend a permit - for example, for a substantial failure to comply with the conditions of a permit; or
  • Contempt charges for non-compliance with Enforcement Orders can be heard before VCAT or a court.

Other enforcement options may be available in certain circumstances, including seeking injunctions from the courts, or in rare cases carrying out the works to secure compliance and then seeking to recover the costs.