As an owner planning your dream renovation or extension on your single dwelling and are told that you don’t require a planning permit. Great! However, while you’ve managed to avoid one piece of red tape, your design trips over another piece of red tape, known as Report and Consent.

What is Report and Consent?

When a design does not meet the requirements of the Building Act 1993 (the Act) and the Building Regulations 2018 (the Regulations), a report and consent is the process of consulting with, and obtaining, the approval of a reporting authority.

In addition to the need to ensure that the assets and infrastructure of authorities are protected, the requirement for a report and consent is based on ensuring that the amenity of the community is not compromised or adversely affected as a result of
proposed building work.

Planning Permits – Report and Consent

Similarly, to the Planning Scheme, siting regulations in the Building Regulations, protect the amenity of the neighbouring properties. A Planning Permit assesses a building envelope. In this instance a report and consent is not required due to the effect of a planning permit. However, if a building envelope has not been assessed in the planning process, then a report and consent is still required.

Design Plan Document had a recent project where an existing studio changed the roof form. The relevant council assessed
the envelope, which was existing, but not the increase of the wall height on boundary, due to the increase in roof pitch, which then required a report and consent for ‘wall height on boundary’.

What is a Reporting Authority?

A reporting authority is “a body or person (other than a municipal building surveyor or private building surveyor to whom an application is made) that is required by the Act or the Regulations or by any other Act or regulations to report on or consent to an application for a permit”1.

A reporting authority could be:

  • council
  • drainage authority
  • relevant electricity supply authority
  • relevant gas supply authority
  • sewerage authority
  • water supply authority
  • fire brigade

Examples of when a report and consent is required:

  • Building over an easement – A service authority; council, a drainage authority, an electricity supply authority, a gas supply authority, a sewerage authority and a water supply authority, will have a vested interest in any assets located in the easement and will need to be consulted when building over an easement.
  • Building in a flood-prone area – Melbourne Water put out guidelines for building in flood prone areas. The consultation is part of the report & consent process.
  • Fire safety matters – for example a fire hose reel is designed to be installed at a distance greater than 4m from an exit. OR when bushfire safety matters do not comply with the requirements, for example emergency services vehicles access the static water supply is 5m instead of the required 4m.
  • Electricity sub-stations – The Relevant Building Surveyor (RBS) may require a report from the relevant electricity supply authority detailing whether a substation is necessary. This is only required for the construction of Class 2 – 9 buildings.
  • Projections beyond street alignment – for example a shop awning projecting beyond the title boundary.
  • Siting of a dwelling – where a design for a single dwelling does not comply with a regulation. An example a minimum front setback of a property is required to be 6m whereas the design shows a minimum setback of 4m.
  • Building above or below public facilities
  • Precautions over street alignment
  • Installing or altering a septic tank system

Fees associated with a report and consent

The fees for an application are charged per item (regulations) and is prescribed in the Regulations.

There are no prescribed fees for applications made to service authorities. The Country Fire Authority (CFA) and The Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFESB) charge an hourly rate by the relevant fire authority.

Relevant building surveyor – Roles and responsibilities

An application for building permit must be made first for the RBS to consider if a reporting authority need be notified. The RBS may obtain the required report and consent or alternatively the applicant may obtain the required report and consent and
forward a copy to the RBS.

The RBS is responsible for ensuring that the report and consent provided to the reporting authority is consistent with the building permit documentation.

Council – Role and Responsibilities

Council’s role and responsibilities in the report and consent process can include that of a decision maker or a mediator. The council should consider the needs of the applicant and the potential impact upon adjoining properties and/or infrastructure when making a decision.

Consultation with adjoining property owners

The Act requires a municipal council is to seek the views of the adjoining property owner when an application is lodged for a reduction in setback requirements, or siting concerns.

This may be carried out by either the owner (applicant) or the council on the owner’s behalf.

Consent / Refusal of an application Consenting to an application

A reporting authority my consent to an application as presented or place recommendations on the consent.

Recommendations should only be related directly to the matter being decided upon. An example is if a report and consent is being sought for…

A reporting authority must provide reasons for refusing an application. When a report and consent is refused, an applicant has the right to appeal the reporting authority’s decision to the Building Appeals Board (BAB).

Time Limits

If a reporting authority (other than council) does not inform the RBS or applicant of its consent or refusal of an application within the prescribed period, it is then considered to have consented to a building permit.

If council does not inform the RBS or applicant of its consent or refusal of an application within the prescribed timeframe, an applicant may appeal to the BAB against council’s failure to consent or refuse the application.

Where can an appeal be made?

An appeal can be lodged with the Building Appeals Board (BAB). An application form and supporting information is to be lodged with the relevant fee. A copy of the application form can be downloaded from the BAB website www.buildingappeals.vic.gov.au.

References:
Building Regulations 2018
VBA Practice Note- 2007-57 issued August 2007. Issued June 2018 vba.vic.gov.au

Further Information
Victorian Building Authority
733 Bourke Street Docklands VIC 3008
www.vba.vic.gov.au
www.buildingappeals.vic.gov.au.

Photo by Brian Babb on Unsplash