The time it takes to reach a decision depends largely on the following factors:
- The zoning
- The proposed use
- If you are seeking any discretionary increases in regulations
- If you are seeking any relaxations
These factors will also determine whether your application will need to be reviewed by other departments and work groups. It can take up to several months to review all factors and reach a decision on an application.
Those applications that have little or no impact on the work of other departments or work groups, or neighbouring property owners, are often processed within a few weeks. Some simple applications may be fast-tracked or processed as a combined development and building permit.
Additions and renovations to existing single-family dwellings are often processed within a few weeks.
NOTE: The time it takes to process an application varies. It will depend on the number of applications in process, the adequacy and accuracy of the information submitted with your application, and any time you will have to spend on required revisions.
Are you more visual? View a flowchart of the development permit review process here.
A Project Coordinator (PC) or Enquiry Centre Officer (ECO) will review the application against zoning and parking regulations, and against any relevant land use policies and guidelines.
For development involving existing buildings, staff will research the history of the site and development to confirm off-street parking and loading requirements, the approved use(s) and zoning bylaw compliance. For development involving new construction, staff will also research previous uses to find out if there may be environmental concerns with the site.
Staff also consider other factors such as:
- Areas currently under planning review
- Archaeological sites
- Flood plains
If design guidelines are applicable, staff will seek feedback from a Development Planner and, quite often, a Landscape Development Specialist, for review. These staff will assess and evaluate the application against the guidelines and provide comments to the Director of Planning.
Other departments and work groups
Engineering Services review all development applications for new construction, and most applications for additions and change of uses where the number of required parking spaces is affected.
Other departments, work groups and staff are consulted when necessary. These may include:
- Area Planner
- Heritage Planner
- Industrial Lands Planner
- City Drug Policy Coordinator
- Social Planning
- Housing Centre
- Building Processing Centre
- Fire & Rescue Services
- Environmental Protection
- Licences & Inspections
- Legal Services
- Vancouver Coastal Health
- Park Board
Advisory panels and groups
There are several advisory panels and groups that provide design advice to the Director of Planning, Development Permit Board and Council via staff.
- The Urban Design Panel reviews all major or significant development applications, provides commentary on the urban design and makes recommendations to the Director of Planning (or the Development Permit Board). The panel's meetings are open to applicants as well as the general public.
- Citizen Advisory Committees have been established for some areas of the City. These committees review development applications in their area and submit recommendations to the Director of Planning. Such committees include:
- Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee
- First Shaughnessy Advisory Design Panel
- Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee
- The Vancouver Heritage Commission, a Council-appointed advisory group, provides feedback on applications involving designated heritage buildings or sites, or buildings that are listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.
- Citizen advisory committees are given the opportunity to comment on development applications in areas of the city where CityPlan “Visioning” or other community planning programs are occurring.
If necessary, staff will visit the site to evaluate:
- Site condition (e.g., slope, access, location of power and utility poles)
- Location and height of the subject building in relation to adjacent buildings (having regard for shadowing, privacy and views)
- Condition of landscaping
- Condition of parking in the immediate area
Neighbourhood notification and feedback
Staff will notify neighbouring property owners of a development application when there is deemed to be a potential impact on the neighbours or when by-law regulations dictate (typically when permitted increases to bylaw regulations are sought). Some of the factors that are considered include:
By soliciting and receiving comments from neighbours, staff are better able to understand the effects of the development on its immediate surrounding, and thus, are able to take measures to address relevant concerns raised by requiring revisions to the proposal or by placing conditions on the approval. Regardless of whether a neighbourhood notification is carried out or not, staff will conduct a thorough evaluation of every application.
Notification is carried out by mailing letters or by requiring the applicant to post signs on the site, or a combination of both methods. Those people notified are given approximately two weeks to reply. Those neighbours who objected to the application are notified of the decision.