Understanding your responsibilities

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Business mentor providing advice to a small business owner.

The Business Help Desk is here to provide you with information around:

  • How you can prepare for each of the City’s departments

  • What each department does in relation to your business proposal

  • How you can impact the process – your responsibilities

Contact the Business Help Desk on 03 5434 6000 or email [email protected] to arrange a one on one meeting.

Take time 

Gather all the information you need, as it will assist the City’s staff when reviewing your proposal.

Engaging a consultant

There are many consultants in the local area who can assist you in preparing an application to submit to the City. Consider whether your proposal is more complex and whether a consultant would better suit your needs.

Here are some common questions and considerations when choosing a consultant:

  1. Has the consultant worked on a similar project to your proposal?

  2. What issues or risks could be encountered with your proposal?

  3. How does your consultancy work through/overcome potential issues?

  4. What does the consultant specialise in?

  5. What services are they qualified to offer?

  6. What services do they outsource?

  7. Is there someone who can recommend a consultant to you? E.g. a similar business owner to the business you are proposing.

  8. Is the consultant able to explain potential costs of your proposal?

  9. Can they explain potential time frames for the application?

If you are engaging a consultant, we encourage you to meet with them in person to ensure they can meet your needs.

There is a lot of communication involved within the process and you need to feel comfortable with who you have engaged to work on your business application.

If you’re unable to meet with them, we encourage you to make a time to seek advice over the phone.

Remember – consultants are similar to our Planning Department. You need to be able to provide as much detail and information about your proposal as possible, to allow the consultant to understand how to best assist you.

Seek advice

From the City, as many staff can provide expert advice and guidance to get your idea off the ground.

  • What if I don’t like the advice?

    Sometimes the advice you receive may not be what you expected. Be open to hearing feedback from the City’s staff, as it may mean your proposal better meets planning requirements, legislation or the community’s needs.

  • Did your plans change after you sought advice?

    The City’s staff can provide advice, but if you seek advice relating to your proposal over the counter, then change your proposal after you submit an application, the initial advice may not be relevant anymore.

Sign the dotted line

Make sure you review your application thoroughly once you are ready to submit. Have you signed all sections?

Plan ahead 

City officers cannot prioritise your application over another. Refer to our helpful web page, “Timeframes explained” to gain better understanding on where the City fits into your proposal.

Planning staff are always happy to talk to customers about a proposal. There is a Planner on duty each day to provide advice over the phone or counter.

Do I need a permit?

If you have chosen a location, you can receive advice over the counter or apply to receive information in writing regarding if a planning permit is required.

  • Fees apply for this information and are adjust on the 1 July each year.

  • If you require confirmation in writing complete the Planning Property Enquiry Form – available from the Town Planning section of the City’s website www.bendigo.vic.gov.au

  • Full details of the proposal need to be provided as outlined previously in order for Planners to give an accurate response.

  • This form identifies the zone, overlays and clauses of the planning scheme that affect the property and whether your proposal would need a planning permit (based on information you supplied with the form).

  • This form is not a planning permit and is also not a guarantee that a planning permit will be issued.

Is the current or proposed use of my business compliant?

The Planning Department can provide advice around whether your existing or proposed business use complies with the requirements of the planning scheme.

  • Fees apply for this information and are adjust on the 1 July each year.

  • If you currently lease or are looking to lease or purchase a property it is wise to check with the Planning Department to ensure it complies with the planning scheme.

  • If two years or more has passed since a property has been used as an operational business, the original approved use for the location may not be valid anymore.

  • If you require confirmation in writing that your proposed or existing use complies you can apply for a Certificate of Compliance Application form (Section 97N Certificate of Compliance) available from the Town Planning section of the City’s website.

  • As part of the application response you will also receive a planning permit history on the land.

  • This form is not a planning permit and is also not a guarantee that a planning permit will be issued.

Planning Permit? Building Permit? Both?

  • A planning permit is a legal document giving permission for the land use or proposed development. The City has a planning scheme which controls how Bendigo is shaped and developed in line with community needs (Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme).

    A building permit relates specifically to building construction or demolition work being carried out. Building permits are issued by private Building Surveyors. The City’s building department generally does not issue building permits.

If you are unsure which permit to apply for, please contact the Planning or Building Departments for expert advice.

Can I submit planning and building applications at the same time?

Yes, however it is likely that the building permit application will not be assessed until it’s known that the planning application is approved.

If your plans change after the planning permit is approved, you will have to pay a fee to amend the planning permit.

Before planning can assess an application they will likely require information about your proposal such as:

  • Specific address of site proposed
  • Full description of development
  • Reports and photographs
  • Sketches and plans of the development
  • Use of the existing land
  • An estimated cost of the development
  • List of any covenants on the land affecting the land (available in the properties Section 32)
  • Potential environmental, social or economic impacts with the proposal
  • Processes involved
  • Staff numbers
  • Customer profile/numbers
  • Operating Hours
  • Parking requirements
  • Signage plans
  • If alcohol is to be served
  • Amenities

It is helpful to seek advice from other units such as the Building Department or Environmental Health at this stage, as things such as accessibility or the layout of your business could affect your planning application.

Bring in a current copy of the land title

Land titles are not held by the City; however you need to supply a current copy of title with every planning permit application (whether you own the property or not).

To obtain a land title, visit the Property and Land titles section of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website – www.propertyandlandtitles.vic.gov.au

Titles include information about:

  • The current owner of the land
  • Covenants, caveats, easements and mortgages listed against a piece of land
  • Restrictions relevant to the land  for example, certain types of business that cannot operate on the land
  • Section 173 agreements that may apply to the land (Section 173 agreements identify many things, for example Bushfire agreements, advice to potential purchasers, building over easements, stormwater detention).

Can I get an update on where my application has progressed to?

Yes – there are three methods for receiving progress updates.

>   Online – the quickest way to view the status of your application.

View the Planning Applications Register

There is a Planning Applications Status Code sheet which explains what each code means and where your application has currently progressed to.

>   In person – there is a Planning Officer on duty each day to assist you with any inquiries.

>   Phone – When you lodge a planning application, you are provided with the contact details of your delegated Planning Officer.

You can email or call the delegated officer at any stage to seek advice around your application, however bear in mind that they are working through other applications and will return your call as soon as time permits.

 

Building Permit? Planning Permit? Both?

  • A building permit relates specifically to building construction or demolition works being carried out. Building permits are issued by private Building Surveyors. The City’s building department generally does not issue building permits.

    A planning permit is a legal document giving permission for the land use or proposed development. The City has a planning scheme which controls how Bendigo is shaped and developed in line with community needs (Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme).

If you are unsure which permit to apply for, please contact the Planning or Building units for expert advice.

Can I submit building and planning applications at the same time?

Yes, however it is likely that the building permit application will not be assessed until it’s known that the planning application is approved.

If your building plans change after the planning permit is approved, you will have to pay a fee to amend the planning permit.

How much will a building permit cost?

The private building surveying industry has a set of fees that vary, usually depending on the cost of works and the project. The City is unable to guide applicants around this cost.

To obtain fees, you can search for a registered practitioner such as a builder, surveyor or plumber on the Victorian Building Authority website - www.vba.vic.gov.au

Why do I need to meet accessibility requirements?

The City is trying to improve accessibility of businesses for everyone, especially people with disability, parents with prams, people with English as a second language and older residents. 

Accessibility can present hidden costs, so it is strongly encouraged to seek advice when setting up or relocating to a new premises, prior to purchasing or signing a lease agreement.

Consider speaking with one of the helpful Building unit staff on how your proposed site can meet the Accessibility Code for disabled occupants.

Read more about Inclusive Business

How do Essential Safety Measurements (ESM’s) relate to my business?

Once a business is operational, or works have been finalised there are ongoing responsibilities to ensure adequate maintenance of any essential safety services installed in the building.

Who is responsible?

  • ESM’s are the responsibility of the owner of the building, not the tenants. Building owners have a responsibility to keep a maintenance log of items identified.

  • Building occupiers have an obligation to ensure all exits and pathways to exits are kept readily accessible.

  • ESM’s are listed on the Certificate of Occupancy or the Maintenance Determination (provided by private Building Surveyors).

How is the City involved?

Councils have responsibility for the enforcement of building safety within their municipality. The City’s building unit staff in conjunction with Country Fire Authority conduct inspections to ensure compliance with all ESM’s. Failure to maintain ESM’s may result in an infringement being issued on the individual or company.

Where can I find out more?

You can contact one of our friendly Building Department staff to understand how to comply. Alternatively, visit the Victorian Building Authorities website – http://www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumer-resources/building/pages/essential-safety-measures

When should I register my food business?

  • Once you have received all other applicable permits from the City such as planning and building.
  • When you have a proposed opening date that is in line with all other approvals. For example, liquor licences.

What information do I need to provide?

Environmental Health Officers (EHO’s) can assist you in understanding the type of information an application may require. Typically, EHO’s require detailed information around:

  • Scaled (1:100 ratio) plans of the premises
  • Layout of all equipment, fittings and fixtures
  • Surface types/materials for walls, floors, ceilings, equipment and fittings.
  • Lighting – location and type
  • Water supply type and location
  • Waste disposal
  • Ventilation
  • Sinks / hand basins
  • Storage areas
  • Toilets (if applicable)
  • Room and bed dimensions (accommodation)
  • Bathrooms (accommodation)

At this stage it is helpful to seek advice from other units within the CIty such as Planning and Building, as things such as accessibility or the layout of your business could affect other applications.

Why do I need to provide details around my layout, fittings or fixtures?

Delays in processing an application can be reduced by providing in depth information when the application is initially submitted. Each time an amendment is made to your application the Environmental Health Officer must assess your application from the beginning, which can result in additional fees and time delays

The level of detail to provide is quite high, however the City has created a useful resourceGuidelines for the Construction and Fitout of a Food Premises” which can assist in gathering the level of detail required, such as the placement of all fittings and fixtures, scaled drawings, and types of lights used in various areas.

The guide lists helpful materials that comply with food regulations on pages 14 to 16. EHO’s encourage businesses to contact them and discuss any details that are unsure of.

What Food Registration Class does my business fall under?

Classifications are determined by the Department of Health. EHO’s use the classifications to determine what class a food premises will operate under.

Please note, community groups are subject to different food handling classification.

Risk Category >  VERY HIGH

Food Registration Required?   YES

Food Safety Supervisor and Food Safety Program Required?  YES

Food Sectors >  Care centres who predominantly handle potentially hazardous food, served to vulnerable clients.

EXAMPLE BUSINESSES

  • Hospital
  • Child care centres
  • Aged care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Hostels

Risk Category >  HIGH

Food Registration Required?   YES

Food Safety Supervisor and Food Safety Program Required?  YES

Food Sectors >  Main activity is handling unpackaged, potentially hazardous food.

EXAMPLE BUSINESSES

  • Restaurants
  • Fast food outlets
  • Pub
  • Caterers
  • Delicatessens
  • Cafes
  • Most manufacturers

Risk Category >  MEDIUM / HIGH

Food Registration Required?   YES

Food Safety Supervisor and Food Safety Program Required?  NO

Food Sectors >  Main activity involves the sale of low risk foods, sale of pre-packaged potentially hazardous foods.

EXAMPLE BUSINESSES

  • Milk bar
  • Convenience store
  • Fruit stalls
  • Selling cut fruit
  • Wholesalers distributing pre-packaged foods

Risk Category >  LOW

Food Registration Required?  NO (only a once off notification)

Food Safety Supervisor and Food Safety Program Required?  NO

Food Sectors >  Food handling activities that pose low risk to public health, sale of shelf stable pre-packaged low risk confectionary, wine tastings, packaged cakes (excluding eggs, cream or honey)

EXAMPLE BUSINESSES

  • Newsagency
  • Pharmacy
  • Video Store
  • Wholesale and retail greengrocers
  • Bottle shops

For more information on Food Classes search for Food Business Classification on the Department of Health website - www.health.vic.gov.au

Can I trade before receiving a Certificate of Registration?

No, trading cannot commence without a Certificate of Registration. Once your plans have been reviewed, business owners should allow time to comply with any recommendations identified and 7 days’ notice to allow for a Final Inspection date of their premises.

A single form has been created to simplify applications for outdoor dining, street trading and a-frame permits - Application for Outdoor Dining and Street Trading Permit or to amend an existing permit.

Outdoor Dining

Are you considering trading outdoors?

The City has an Outdoor Street Dining Code of Practice which can be quite complex to navigate. The Local Laws unit can assist you in understanding how to meet all the requirements within The Code.

Consider contacting the Local Laws Officer as they can provide you with guidance around;

  • Measurements of the proposed trading area
  • Furniture types that cause limited damage to the footpath
  • The size and placement of advertising barriers
  • Installing bluestone within the Central Business District

Further information can also be found in the City’s fact sheet - Guidelines: Outdoor Dining Code of Practice

Street Trading

Would you like to display products outside your business?

Goods displayed on the City’s footpaths require a permit. Local Laws can assist you to understand your obligations when displaying these goods, such as compliance with the Disability Act.

A-Frame Signs

The Local Laws unit is responsible for issuing A-Frame permits. An A Frame Permit can be granted in a short 48 hours if your form is correctly completed, signed and you have a Certificate of Currency for Public Liability Insurance.

What information do I need to provide when applying for Outdoor Dining, Street Trading or Display of Goods on the Sidewalk?

The Application for Outdoor Dining and Street Trading Permit or to amend an existing permit covers both street trading and outdoor dining. The form identifies key information to provide to the Local Laws Officer such as;

  • Copies of relevant permits and licences (such as an approved Liquor Licence or Food Registration).
  • Site photographs
  • Site plan to scale 1:100
  • Detail design of furniture including dimensions (pictures/drawings)
  • Detail of design of an advertising including A-frames (pictures/drawings)
  • Details of any certifications for the installation of gas heaters.
  • Certificate of Currency for Public Liability Insurance for a minimum of $10 million specifically covering the area to be occupied for street trading and indemnifying the City of Greater Bendigo against all claims.
  • Detailed sign of barrier inserts (pictures/drawings)

How much will this cost?

The costs change each financial year and vary depending on a number of factors such as the number of chairs and tables within the trading area, and whether the dining or display of goods is in the CBD or outlying areas.

Current fees are listed on the Application for Outdoor Dining and Street Trading Permit or to Amend an Existing Permit (current as of 2016/2017 financial year).

Book in with us

Contact the Business Help Desk on 03 5434 6000 or email [email protected] to arrange a one on one meeting.


We welcome your feedback.

Did you know you can log requests online?

This includes several bin requests such as missed bins, footpath maintenance, tree inspections and general requests. Visit our make a request page.


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