The difference between building and planning


Understanding the difference between building and planning can help guide you through the development process. It will ensure you apply for the correct permits for your project.


A planning permit is a legal document that allows a certain use or development to take place on a particular piece of land and considers the impact and amenity (liveability) of an area. The Swan Hill Planning Scheme outlines objectives, policies, controls for the use, development and protection of the land.

A planning permit will include conditions and approved plans which must be complied with. It is always subject to a time limit and will expire under specified circumstances.

If you are not sure if you need a planning permit, you can email the Planning Department at


Building permits are documents certifying that a proposed building complies with the relevant building regulations. A building permit is a written approval by a building surveyor. It allows the building work to be undertaken according to the approved plans specifications and other relevant documentation.

Note: if a planning permit is required for your project, a building permit is unable to be issued until the planning permit is granted first.

Not all building projects require a building permit. Possible exemptions may include:

  • Some minor alterations or demolitions
  • Pergolas associated with houses
  • Some garden sheds with a floor area less than 10m2
  • Repair work for maintenance purposes

Council does not currently have a Municipal Building Surveyor on site to answer enquires. For further information please seek one of the alternatives listed below: