Open for business guidelines
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We are excited to announce the launch of the ‘Open for Business’ Guidelines! We want to help small businesses open sooner. We have developed materials to help you complete permit requirements.
We know permit requirements can be confusing to understand. We have grouped permit requirements by the industry you're working in, rather than by the regulator.
This means that small businesses can use these guides as a one-stop shop. You can find information about planning, building, health, local laws, acoustics and liquor licensing. All the information is simplified and tailored to the type of business.
Six councils partnered to deliver this project: Merri-bek, Stonnington, Port Phillip, Greater Shepparton, Yarra and Hobsons Bay. It was funded through the Victorian Government’s Regulatory Reform Incentive Fund.
Watch the summary video
- Hospitality guide (PDF 3.1MB)
- Music venues (PDF 4MB)
- Fitness businesses (PDF 2.9MB)
- Entertainment and recreation businesses (PDF 2.5MB)
- Personal services (PDF 2.8MB)
- Small industry and manufacturing businesses (PDF 2.6MB)
These factsheets go into more detail. They include topics like what to look for when leasing, building code requirements around toilets and fire escapes, and acoustic attenuation for live music and planning zones. Click on the drop-down menus to find out more.
If your business is different to the previous type of business on site, this is called a ‘change of use’. Generally speaking, you need a permit to do this.
Buildings and works and signs (PDF 565 KB)
Building on your land, excavating or removing trees is known as carrying out buildings and works. Generally speaking, you need a permit to do this.
Consider the car parking requirements for your customers and staff.
Existing use rights (PDF 309KB)
You may realise your property is being used in a way that is not permitted according to the current zoning. For example, a pub in a residential zone.
In most cases, this is legal because the property existed before the current Planning Scheme. Learn about existing use rights and their implications for your land.
How you use your land must comply with your council’s planning scheme. Sometimes, you may have a smaller, secondary part of your business, like an office attached to a warehouse. This is referred to as “ancillary use”.
External referrals (PDF 218KB)
Sometimes, a planning permit application needs to be referred to other authorities for advice or consultation. For example, if you’re proposing to change the access to a road, your application may be referred to the Department of Transport.
Compliance with permit conditions (PDF 224KB)
When you are granted a planning permit, it often comes with certain conditions. It is critical that you comply with these and do not change your approved operating conditions or endorsed plans afterwards without seeking approval. Otherwise, you could be penalised.
How to apply for a planning permit (PDF 578KB)
A planning permit is often the first and most important permit when starting or expanding a business, as it’s a ‘make or break’ decision. Applying for a planning permit is done on your local council website.
If a Council decides to refuse your application for a planning permit, or imposes conditions you’re not happy about, you have the right to appeal the decision.
How to apply for a liquor licence (PDF 735KB)
A step-by-step guide on the application process.
Types of liquor licence (PDF 1.3MB)
Choose the right type of liquor licence for your needs.
Liquor licensee responsibilities (PDF 720KB)
Holding a liquor licence comes with obligations to your customers and community. You must ensure alcohol is served responsibly and in accordance with the law and conditions of your licence.
Food safety factsheet (PDF 499KB)
Food can make your customers sick if it’s not handled correctly. That’s why there are certain safety regulations you must adhere to when running a food business.
Building classifications (PDF 410KB)
If you plan to change a building’s use, for example by turning a shop into a café, you may have to make changes.
Building permits for businesses (PDF 578KB)
Building on your land, excavating or removing trees is known as
carrying out buildings and works. Generally speaking, you need a permit to do this.
Building approval process (PDF 300KB)
A step-by-step guide to the approval process.
Acoustics and unreasonable noise (PDF 568KB)
Planning application requirements relating to noise control, as well as your ongoing responsibilities relating to the noise impacts of your business.
Acoustics fact sheet (PDF 416KB)
If there is any risk of your business impacting your surroundings with noise, you should seek advice from an acoustics consultant to support your planning permit application.
Acoustics for gyms (PDF 556KB)
Gyms may need to consider vibratoni, structure-borne noise, and noise made by equipment or by dropping equipment.
Acoustics for hospitality and live music (PDF 1MB)
If you have live music, DJs or a focus on entertainment and liquor, you’re more likely to emit higher levels of noise than a café or restaurant.
Acoustics for small industry and manufacturing businesses (PDF 504KB)
For larger industrial or commercial uses that include manufacturing, warehousing or other supply industries, a detailed acoustic report is required.
Before you can use the footpath, car park or reserve for your business, you will need to apply for a permit from your council.