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What is the difference between Planning and Building Approval?

Updated: Jun 7

In most projects, universally throughout the world and for many decades, there have been two broad areas of approval needed for construction of a building: Planning and Building. Sometimes a building is small enough for these to be combined, but they are so distinct and concern completely different things that you should always assume you require the two separate approvals for any project.


Planning Approval


A Planning Approval (sometimes called a Development Approval or 'DA') is concerned with the 'broad implications' of a building to society and its surroundings. That is:

  • What the building will be used for

  • Its size and how close it is to the edge of properties and to its neighbours

  • How high it is compared to others in the area

  • How much resources the building will use during operation (such as parking, neighbouring facilities and expected number of patrons and staff)

  • What impact the building has on its neighbouring environment, in terms of energy efficiency, privacy, overshadowing, noise and light.

Using this as a guide, it is now easy to judge what concerns the surrounding society or local government would usually have that need to be addressed - and the reason for the existence of such an approval.


Plans are usually submitted to apply for Planning Approval, accompanied by reports or written statements. However, the plans do not usually need as much detail as a construction set of documents, and can be quite broad.


Building Approval


In contrast to Planning Approval, Building Approval (sometimes called a Building Licence or Building Permit) is concerned with ensuring a building is built properly, safely and suitably. This includes:

  • What the building is made of

  • Ensuring it adequately deals with fire, water, wind and waste

  • How it is structurally supported and engineered

  • How energy efficient it is

  • How it is to be constructed

The rules that govern a Building Approval are normally in a construction code (in Australia, it is called the NCC - National Construction Code). A set of plans sent for Building Approval is usually very detailed, requiring enough detail to address the above concerns.


So in conclusion, what is the difference between a Planning Approval and a Building Approval? Planning approval is primarily concerned with the implications of the building on society and its surroundings, and Building Approval is concerned with the ensuring it is safe and properly built.


Hubble Design has the skills and capability to obtain both types of approvals - don't hesitate to contact us for assistance regarding your project.

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