Assessment categories

There are four assessment categories that can apply to your proposed development.

The assessment category will influence:

  • whether you need a development permit
  • your application requirements
  • how your application is assessed by the consent authority.

The assessment category will tell you if you need a development permit in most cases.

However, there are other factors that may change your need for planning approval.


Permitted uses are those that are:

  • preferred in the zone
  • unlikely to have a negative impact if they meet all relevant development requirements.

You don’t need a development permit if:

When a permitted use becomes merit assessable

A use that is normally permitted becomes merit assessable when:

  • the use needs consent because of an overlay or
  • you need to vary one or more development requirements.

Merit assessable

You need a development permit if the use is merit assessable in the zone.

Merit assessable uses:

  • are expected in the zone and
  • have a low risk of impacts to other expected uses in the zone.

If a merit assessable development meets all requirements, it is likely to be approved.

If you want to vary one or more development, subdivision, consolidation or overlay requirements, it will be considered against:

When a merit assessable use becomes impact assessable

A use that is normally merit assessable only becomes impact assessable if an overlay applies to the land and the proposal.

Impact assessable

You need a development permit if the use is impact assessable.

Impact assessable uses may or may not be suitable in the zone.

It depends on the specific nature and location of the proposed development.

The development may not be approved even if it meets all the requirements.

An impact assessable development is considered against:


Prohibited uses are usually unsuitable in a zone.

You can't get a development permit for a prohibited use unless:

  • it is ancillary (secondary) to the primary use of the land
  • you want to use a declared heritage place for your proposal and
    • you have approval from the minister for heritage or
  • an interim development control order provides different rules.

An existing use that is currently prohibited but was lawful in the past may have existing use rights.

Find out more about these factors that can change your need for planning approval.

Last updated: 08 September 2020

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