Existing use rights

When you apply for a planning permit, you must check that your property is being used in a way that is permitted. 

Existing use occurs when your land is being used in a legal way, either with an approved permit or an approved use where a permit is not required, and the planning controls now in place prohibit that use.

For more information please download the Existing use rights factsheet (PDF)

Why are existing use rights required?

Existing use rights are in place to reduce the potential negative impacts that could occur if people were forced to discontinue the use of their property because of a change in planning controls.

It also allows for a transition of land use to the new preferred planning outcomes.

Example of changing use of land

If you build a small admin office space next to a factory for use in association with the factory you retain your existing use rights.

If you turn the whole factory into an office block then you would lose the existing use rights for a factory as you have changed the entire use of the site.

Examples of an 'existing use'

  1. You own a pub that is operating and serving alcohol in an area zoned Residential. The pub can continue to operate legally because it was operating as a pub prior to the current planning scheme being in place. Existing use means that the existing use of the property (example the pub) can continue to operate even though the current zoning has changed and may prohibit this type of use.
  2. You have an existing permit to operate a factory in a large area zoned industrial but that later gets re-zoned to Residential 1, effectively prohibiting its use.
  3. You own a house in an area that was zoned residential but has since been zoned commercial.

Common questions about 'existing use'