Business approvals - Restaurants & cafes

As a guide, the following approvals are typically required if you are intending to open a restaurant or café.

Step 1 - Planning

Depending on the area where you intend to operate your restaurant or café, you may be exempt from requiring planning approval.

Planning approval is not required where:

  • Restaurant/café is identified as a P use under the City’s Local Planning Scheme; and
  • There is no increase in floor area or patrons, alteration to the design of the building or requires an increase in parking bays.

The City has also prepared an information sheet of the change of use process for a restaurant/café which is available below:

Change of use process - Restaurant/café

If you have any questions, please speak to a Planning Officer on 9273 6000 or email

Step 2 - Building permit

There is a common misconception that if the fit-out work is non-structural in nature or is less than $20,000, a building permit is not needed. That is incorrect.

In most cases, works involving alterations and additions to an existing building will require a building permit as the proposed fit-out work could affect the way the building complies with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and applicable Australian Standards.

For example, including but not limited to:

  • Partitions could affect occupant egress to an exit when evacuating the building during a fire emergency.
  • Existing facilities within the building may need to be upgraded to comply with disabled access requirements.
  • The fit-out work could result in the relocation of or changes to existing services i.e. sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, emergency lighting, exit signs, etc. 
  • Poorly installed or inadequate commercial kitchen exhaust hoods and mechanical ventilation systems could cause odour and smoke nuisance to adjoining properties.

For information on the building permit process, please visit the following web pages:

Building Services information

Fees and Charges Schedule

If you have any questions, please contact the Building Services team on (08) 9273 6000 or email

Step 3 - Health

A restaurant or café is classed as a food business under the Food Act 2008 and must be registered with the City.

The Department of Local Government, Sporting & Cultural Industries (Liquor Licensing Directorate) is responsible for issuing liquor permits. They may ask the City if there are any objections to issuing a permit, or request a ‘section 39’ certificate to determine health and building compliance. For more information visit their website.

For more information on the registration process, approval requirements and to download an application form please click the following link:

Food businesses

Liquor applications (section 39)

If you have any questions, please speak to an Environmental Health Officer on 9273 6000 or email

Step 4 - Occupancy permit

An Occupancy Permit (OP) must be obtained from the City before a commercial tenancy or building can be occupied or used.

An OP relates to the building, and not to the owner or occupier. In some instances, the building owner may obtain an OP for the public or common use parts of the building and leave it to each tenant to obtain an OP for each tenancy in that building.

If you are unsure whether there is an existing OP in place or if you require an OP, please contact the Building Services team on (08) 9273 6000 or email

A copy of the OP must be displayed at or near the principal (main) entrance to the premises so that it is clearly visible to occupants and other people using the building. A fine of $10,000 may be imposed for a failure to do so.

For more information, please visit the following web pages:

Occupancy Permit

Small Business Building Approvals

Fees and Charges Schedule

Building Inspection

When an Occupancy Permit application is received, a Building Surveyor from the City will organise a time to come out to the property to conduct a final inspection. 

For more information, please contact the Building Services team on (08) 9273 6000 or email

This information is intended as a guide only. The City disclaims any liability for damages sustained by a person acting on the basis of this information.