Difference between Planning and Building

Planning approval and building approval are two separate processes.

Often a particular use or development of land requires approvals under both processes. However, separate applications are required.

The planning process is mainly concerned with assessing the impacts of a proposed use or development on neighbouring land, such as:

  • Will there be loss of privacy or overshadowing problems?
  • Is a proposed development set far enough away from boundaries?
  • Is a proposed building too high?
  • Is the proposed use of the land appropriate to the area?
  • Will a proposed development affect the streetscape?
  • Does a use or development have enough car parking?
  • Will the proposed hours of operating of a use affect neighbours?


Building approval involves an assessment of a proposed use or development against the Building Code of Australia and the Plumbing Regulations, and considers issues such as:

  • Is the building soundly constructed?
  • Have adequate fire protection measures been installed?
  • Is the building capable of receiving adequate levels of light and ventilation?
  • Is the building property sewered and drained?
  • Are the building's features safe for users? 

The building and plumbing process may also involve a series of inspections at various stages of construction of a building to ensure that these issues have been addressed.

Since August 2004, the Council no longer surveys building plans or provides an inspection service. You can find private building surveyors listed in the Yellow Pages or online. 

When you require a planning permit

You should talk to us to find out whether you need a planning permit for a particular kind of use or development, or to see if any exemptions apply.

To see whether a planning permit application is required or view the exemption provisions, you can look at the Glenorchy Interim Planning Scheme 2015 (external link).

If you are buying or leasing a property, make sure it can be used for what you want it for. Don’t assume that you can start a business on a property just because there is already a business there. Also, don't assume that a planning permit application is not required simply because there are no building works proposed.

You may need to get other approvals in addition to planning permit approval, such as building or plumbing approval.

It is an offence to carry out any use or develop land which requires a planning permit without first obtaining a planning permit from Council and before that planning permit is in effect.

The meaning of ‘use’ and ‘development’

The terms ‘use’ and ‘development’ have special meanings under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (external link)

‘Use’ is defined to include ‘the manner of utilising land but does not include the undertaking of development’.

For example, proposing to use an existing house as a doctor’s surgery may not require any buildings or work, but it is a change to how the land was used before, and therefore you may need planning permission to make the change.

‘Development’ is defined as including:

(a) the construction, exterior alteration or exterior decoration of a building; and

(b) the demolition or removal of a building or works; and

(c) the construction or carrying out of works; and

(d) the subdivision or consolidation of land, including buildings or airspace; and

(e) the placing or relocation of a building or works on land; and

(f) the construction or putting up for display of signs or hoardings – but does not include any development of a class or description, including a class or description mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (f), prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this definition.