The starting point in all development is assessment against the Planning Scheme which details the standards applicable for all use and development. Under the Planning Scheme there are five classifications: Exempt, P1 (permitted no permit required), Permitted, Discretionary and Prohibited. If the development is exempt or has a P1 classification then you do not require a planning permit and can proceed straight to building and plumbing assessment. For all other use or development you will require a planning permit before you can commence any construction or use.
The process and timelines that Council must comply with when assessing a development application for a planning permit are stipulated in the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993. Under this legislation Council has a maximum of 42 days within which it must make a decision. However, Council can request further information if required, which will 'stop the clock' until the required information is provided. This can result in the decision taking longer than 42 straight calendar days.
The document links below provide further information regarding the planning process:
Planning Classifications and Process Explanation(121 kb)
Planning Application Process Flowchart(261 kb)