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Site Plan Control

What is Site Plan Control?

Site plan control is a tool to regulate development provided to municipalities in Ontario’s Planning Act. It is used to ensure that any development meets certain standards and regulations. The goal of Site Plan Control is to improve the appearance and look of the municipality by applying consistent standards and guidelines to development.

Essentially, a site plan is a drawing or set of drawings that illustrates the proposed property improvements such as buildings, driveways, parking areas, pedestrian sidewalks, landscaping, fences, light fixtures, grading, drainage and municipal services. The site plan approval process promotes functional and attractive development, while minimizing adverse impacts on the surrounding land uses.

Section 41 of the Ontario Planning Act enables the municipality to pass a Site Plan Control By-law. Site Plan Control applies to all lands in the Municipality EXCEPT the following types of development:

  • Any building or structure in a park operated by the municipality, Region, Conservation Authority
  • Any structure erected for flood or erosion control purposes
  • Any permitted agricultural building or structure
  • Any building or structure used by a public utility
  • Residential buildings containing less than three dwelling units
  • Alterations to buildings or structures which do not alter the nature of the existing use
  • Any expansion or enlargement of a building or structure that is less than twenty square metres or less than 10 per cent of the total floor area of the building, whichever is less.

Within the Oak Ridges Moraine, agricultural and residential buildings require site plan approval when located within the Environmental Protection (EP) zone and the Minimum Area of Influence (MAOI) zone; and within an Oak Ridges Moraine Landform Conservation Area.  Expansions to these buildings may be exempt under certain circumstances.

You cannot start to develop an area that is subject to site plan control unless the municipality has reviewed and approved certain plans. Once the plans are approved, a site plan agreement is generally executed. This agreement contractually binds the owner to develop and maintain a site in accordance with the approved plans and the terms of the agreement.

The site plan control process allows municipal staff to review and approve the following components:

  • Building siting and site design
  • Building mass
  • Driveways, curbing and traffic direction signs
  • Loading and parking facilities
  • Emergency vehicle routes
  • All pedestrian access such as walkways and ramps
  • Landscaping for the site and protection of adjoining sites
  • Refuse and other waste facilities
  • Site lighting requirements
  • Grading, drainage and servicing components
  • Need for municipal and/or regional road widening

The developer must also demonstrate how the proposed design and organization of the site and buildings meet the implementation policies of the Official Plan.

The developer must satisfy and address all staff and agency comments prior to approval of the plans.


Prior to submitting an application, the owner/applicant must pre-consult with staff and agencies in accordance with the Municipality’s pre-consultation procedure.

How do I apply?

Site plan approval in Clarington has been delegated by By-law to staff. The Site Plan application form must be completed and submitted to the Planning Services Department with the required fee and drawings as discussed during the pre-consultation meeting.

What happens next?

Once your application is filed and has been deemed complete, it will be assigned to a Planner who will circulate your application to other departments and appropriate agencies for comments. When all comments have been received and all concerns resolved, the drawings are approved and conditions of site plan approval are issued.

The Legal Services Department then prepares a Site Plan Agreement or Amending Agreement for execution. The Mayor and Clerk will execute the agreement on behalf of the Municipality, and the agreements are then registered on title.

What are the fees?

Clarington’s Fee Schedule outlines the current fees for this application. A complete list of fees will be provided during the pre-consultation meeting.

Also, please refer to the Agency Review Fees for development applications for a complete list of fees payable to the Durham Region Health Department, Durham Regional Planning and the Conservation Authorities. These fees are discussed during the pre-consultation meeting and are payable to the individual agency, but submitted to the Municipality when making an application.

The Owner/Developer may be responsible for other costs as part of the approval. This may include:

  • Engineering estimate for entrance work (to be secured)
  • Landscaping cost estimate for landscaping (to be secured)
  • Road/sidewalk damage deposit
  • Cash payment-in-lieu of parkland dedication
  • Permit fees
  • Development charges

How long does it take to process the application?

The time required to process a Site Plan application will vary depending on the complexity of the proposal. On average, Site Plan review and approval may take between three to six months.

Can the decision be appealed?

If the Municipality fails to approve the application within the time period prescribed under the Planning Act, or if the owner is not satisfied with any part of the approval, the owner may refer the application to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).  An appeal must include a completed OLT Appeal Form and be accompanied by a cheque payable to the Minister of Finance. All appeals must be submitted to the Clerk of the Municipality of Clarington.

Are there other permits or approvals required?

You may need to obtain other permits and approvals from the Municipality aside from Site Plan approval. This information would be discussed at the pre-consultation meeting.


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