Business approvals - Small bars

As a guide, the following approvals are typically required if you are intending to open a small bar

Step 1 - Planning

Planning approval is usually required for operating a new small bar. 

The City has also prepared an information sheet of the change of use process for a small bar which can be downloaded below:

Change of use process - Small bar

In addition to planning approval, a liquor licence would also be required before you can operate. The Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor are responsible for issuing liquor licences. In support of your application, you will require a Section 40 Certificate from the City which confirms you have the appropriate planning approval which matches your proposed liquor licence.

Application for Section 40 Certificate

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

Step 2 - Building

Check to see whether you require a building permit. Generally, all works involving alterations and additions, food business fit outs including installation of cool rooms and exhaust hoods will require a building permit.  Where a simple fit out is proposed, and only movable furniture is being replaced or painting and decorating is being carried out, a building permit will generally not be required. 

In most cases, proposed partitioning works for shop, office and warehouse fit outs will affect the way the building complies with an applicable Building Standard and will require a building permit. 

For example, including but not limited to: 

  • Fit out changes that affect the existing path of travel to a required exit will affect the way the building complies with the egress provisions of the Building Code. 
  • Changes to access requirements (accessible paths of travel, corridor widths, door widths and doorways etc.) 
  • Internal and/or external alterations resulting in the relocation of, changes to, existing services (sprinkler systems, fire hydrant coverage, smoke detection and alarm systems, emergency lighting and exit signs, mechanical ventilation systems etc.)

For information on the building permit process please visit the following webpages:

Building Services information

Building application forms

If you have any questions, please speak to a Building Surveyor on 9273 6000 or email

Step 3 - Health

A small bar is considered a public building and is permitted to hold up to 120 persons under the Liquor Control Act 1988. Food may also be served.

Public buildings require approval to ensure they are safe and suitable for the public to occupy, as a requirement under the Health (Public Buildings) Regulations 1992.

Food businesses must be registered under the Food Act 2008.

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

For more information on the City’s registration and approval process, approval requirements and to download the food and public building application form please click the following links:

Food businesses

Public buildings

Liquor applications (section 39)

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