About the Planning Process

This page provides a summary of how the planning scheme works and common questions.

Please click here for information on the seven key steps of the planning application process.

How the planning scheme works

The planning scheme is made up of zones, codes, overlays, use classes, exemptions and site-specific rules.

Your property will:

  • Be zoned, with a use table and zone specific use and development standards;
  • Usually have one or more overlays showing where values or hazards apply, such as bushfire; and
  • May have site-specific rules such as specific area plans, local area objectives or site-specific qualifications.

Zones, overlays and site-specific rules are all clearly mapped and available on the TPC website and at listmap.

In addition, some non-mapped codes on matters such car parking and road access often apply.

Unless exempted at section 4 of the scheme, all use and development must be classified within one of the planning schemes defined ‘use class’, such as residential or general retail or hire.  The zone use table will categorise the ‘use’ as either No Permit Required, Permitted, Discretionary or Prohibited.

Each standard in the planning scheme consists of an objective along with acceptable solutions and performance criteria. The standard can be met by either complying with an acceptable solution or satisfying the performance criteria, which are equally valid ways to comply with the standard. The following examples illustrates the difference between a measurable acceptable solution and an outcome-focused performance criteria.

Objective:Outlines what the planning standard is trying to achieve
Acceptable SolutionPerformance Criteria
The acceptable solution specifies a measurable and quantitative requirement, such as a side setback of a particular distance.
The performance criteria detail performance based measures to evaluate the appropriateness of the planning application which require the exercise of judgement and discretion. The performance criteria will be relevant if the acceptable solution is not complied with.

If a use or development relies on one, or more, performance criteria the application will be discretionary, even if the use is permitted or no permit required in the zone use table.

If a use or development that relies on one, or more, performance criteria but does not satisfy the performance criteria, the application will be refused.

The planning scheme can be difficult to interpret and apply.  We hope the information on this website assists you in understanding and working with the planning system:

“The planning scheme is very complex, and exceedingly and unnecessarily difficult to comprehend or interpret. Most ordinary people would not have a chance. Most sensible people, or people with a life, would not attempt the task unless they had absolutely no choice. In order to determine how the scheme operates in relation to the appellant’s proposed development, it is practically essential to have a law degree, decades of experience in interpreting legal documents, a talent for understanding gobbledygook and misused words, a lot of time, and a very strong capacity for perseverance.”


Frequently Asked Planning Questions

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme – Sorell is the planning scheme for the Sorell LGA.  The Tasmanian Planning Scheme – Sorell can be viewed at:

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme – Sorell is made up of two parts.

One part is the State Planning Provisions (SPPs), which is a detailed rule-book containing use and development Standards for various zones and codes.  The Tasmanian Government is responsible for preparing the SPPs.

The second part is the Local Provisions Schedule (LPS) which determines what zones and code overlays apply to a property and also includes Standards address specific local values. Council prepared the LPS in accordance with government guidelines and approval from the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

When you view the planning scheme on iplan or planbuild, you will see both parts as they have been merged into the Tasmanian Planning Scheme – Sorell.

Works on your property, such as removing trees, putting up a shed, building a deck or an extension may require planning approval.  Planning requirements are typically site specific and it is important to check what requirements may apply.

Information on the relevant planning considerations and process can be found:

There is a statutory timeframe of 42 days for discretionary applications and 28 days for permitted applications.  The timeframe starts when your application becomes valid (typically when fees are paid) and will stop if additional information is required.  The clock will re-start once an additional information request is fully satisfied.

Additional time may be required to complete the assessment if the application is complex or if representations are received.  If additional time is required, Council will send a formal request.

There are five categories of planning applications, each with their own approval pathway and procedures.  These are:

  • Exempt: if a use or development meets the exemptions, no planning approval is necessary.  You may still require other approvals such as building or plumbing.  We encourage you to provide Council with a letter or email outlining your exempt activity for our records.
  • No Permit Required: if a use is listed in the zone use table as no permit required, and does not rely on one or more performance criteria, a formal permit from Council is not required.  Instead of a permit, a no permit required certificate is issued.  To apply for a certificate, please complete the normal planning application form and provide the necessary documents.
  • Permitted: if a use is listed in the zone use table as no permit required, and does not rely on one or more performance criteria, a permit is required.  For permitted applications, a permit must be issued and there is no public exhibition.  Relevant conditions can be imposed on a permitted permit.
  • Discretionary: if a use is listed in the zone use table as discretionary and/or relies on one or more performance criteria, a discretionary permit is required.  All discretionary applications are subject to public exhibition.  Discretionary applications may be approved or refused based on compliance with the applicable planning scheme standards.
  • Prohibited: if a use is not listed in the zone use table as no permit required, permitted or discretionary, the use is prohibited and cannot be approved.  Similarly, if an application cannot satisfy one or more performance criteria it cannot be approved.

The planning scheme has both use standards and development standards.

Use refers to the activity or activities undertaken on land.  Common uses are dwelling, café, office or local shop.  The scheme includes definitions of use and use class.

Development refers to physical works to land such as building, subdividing, earthworks or land clearing.

A full copy of your Certificate of Title is required for a planning application. The following documents are examples of the documents required – Folio Text(PDF, 954KB)Folio Plan(PDF, 557KB) and Schedule of Easements(PDF, 557KB).

Note that not all titles have a schedule of easements and this will be listed in Schedule 2 on the Folio Text page if applicable.

Some titles have a Part 5 Agreement and this should also be included.

Title documents can be purchased from The List.

The legislation to determines how planning decisions are made, requires that the Council sit not as the normal Council but as a Planning Authority.  When sitting as the Planning Authority, the Council is limited to considering those matters that are relevant to the planning scheme and not other matters that they may ordinarily consider.

If your property is your place of principal residence and you are renting a room or the whole house while you are temporarily away, you will not require planning approval.

In all other circumstances, you will first require a permit.

Visitor accommodation, if in an existing building with a floor area of less than 200m2 and that is not part of a strata scheme, is usually permitted.  In other cases, a discretionary permit will be required.

To apply for visitor accommodation in an existing or new building you will need to make a planning application to Council.  The application will need to include a floor site, site plan showing details of all buildings, car parking and access and description of the activity and may require details of the existing wastewater and stormwater management systems.  A visitor accommodation application package containing the planning application form and the self-assessment form for building is available on our ‘Planning Forms and Information Sheets’ page.

Once you have received your planning permit, you can complete the Building Self-Assessment form which is part of the Visitor Accommodation Standard Application Package 2018 available at https://www.planningreform.tas.gov.au/facts/visitor-accommodation-reforms.  Please note that the planning section of this package is no longer relevant.

Certain codes, overlays, and specific area plans include controls on vegetation removal, including but not necessarily limited to Scenic Management, Heritage and Natural Values.  Therefore, if such an overlay applies it is most likely an application is necessary.

Please see our information sheet on vegetation clearing for more details.

Some zones impose controls relating to the construction of fences. Side and rear fences are generally dealt with under exemptions as outlined in our exempt fencing information sheet available here.  Any issues between neighbours in relation to costs or type of fencing are civil matters and we refer you to the Tasmanian Legal Aid Commission’s Fact Sheet or Boundary Fence Act 1908.

You can find out if your property is listed by visiting plan build.  This may impose some additional controls on the development you wish to undertake. Your property may also be listed by the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

Before meeting or emailing Council staff it is important that you are well prepared with development concepts and clear and concise questions so that we can provide relevant and clear information in response.

Council staff can assist you in understanding which parts of the planning scheme will apply to your proposal, the type of documentation required and any specific considerations that apply to the site in terms of infrastructure, natural values or natural hazards.

A request for a meeting is based made via an email with a short summary of what you would like to discuss.  This helps ensure that planning, building, environmental health or engineering staff are available and any necessary background research is undertaken.

A planning consultant may assist you in preparing an application and, importantly, can provide you with advice on what type of development is best for the site and your personal circumstances and the likelihood of obtaining approval.


We understand that the planning process can be expensive and daunting and is not without risk.

If your proposal is discretionary, we cannot provide in principal support.  This is because the application must first be advertised and that the final assessment must consider any representations.  Additionally, representors can lodge appeals.

It can be useful to engage a town planning consultant to act on your behalf, to provide you with advice and to present your application in the best possible way.

If the proposal requires use of Council land the application must include consent from the General Manager. Please complete the form to seek consent.

If the proposal requires use of Crown land you must include consent from the Minister responsible for the administration of the Crown Land.  This will typically be via the Property Services division of the Parks and Wildlife Service or the Department of State Growth.

If the consent is given by a delegate of the Minister, you will need to provide a copy of the delegation.

You can request a minor change to your approved plans or the permit conditions.

You need to complete the Request for Amendment Application Form (PDF), include the owner’s consent (if relevant), and pay the fees.

It’s best to talk to a Planning Officer first to see if the proposed change can be considered as a minor amendment. Please contact us to discuss.

You can ask the Council for an extension of the two-year timeframe in which you need to begin a development or use, according to your permit.

The request must be in writing and made no later than 6 months from the date the permit lapsed.

We may grant two separate extensions of time to your permit. Each extension is for two years.

If you have not substantially commenced the permit within six years from the date of the original permit (if both extensions have been granted) the permit will lapse.  A new planning application will be required if you still wish to carry out the development or use.

Applications current on public exhibition can be viewed here.

A list of planning approvals for the previous month is given in each Council agenda which can be viewed here.