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.

There are currently temporary exemptions in place in response to COVID-19 which temporarily exempt a Restaurant/Café from requiring development approval until 90 days after the current state of emergency is lifted. More information on these exemptions can be found on the COVID-19 planning information page.

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

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 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