Are you planning to develop a business in the city of Cambridge? The development process includes a number of steps. View our Industrial Developers Handbook for more information. Please note that information in this handbook may not apply to all development projects.  

If you have any questions, contact us for support. We're happy to help guide you through the process.

Site Plan approval process

You must complete the Site Plan approval process before you can apply for a building permit.

What is Site Plan control?

Development of a new commercial, industrial, institutional, or multiple-residential building requires site plan approval. Site Plan Control Approval is a form of localized development control authorized under the Planning Act and implemented through the City of Cambridge Site Plan Control Area By-law.

Site Plan Control allows the City to ensure development occurs in accordance with applicable policies and regulations such as the Zoning By-law and Ontario Building Code.


Site Plan Control does not apply to:

  • Single family dwellings
  • Duplexes
  • Triplexes
  • Buildings that are accessory to these types of dwellings
  • Farm buildings
Do I need Site Plan Approval?
Most new buildings, additions and commercial parking lots require Site Plan Approval. Contact us to determine if your development project requires Site Plan Approval. Please have a sketch of your plan ready for discussion.
How do I apply for approval?

View the Site Plan Approval Reference Guide and complete the following documents to apply for Site Plan Approval:

Building Permits

The Ontario Building Code requires you to apply for a Building Permit before any construction activity can begin on the site.

You must complete a Building Permit application for each permit you're applying for, along with duplicate sets of drawings for each project. The drawings must include:

  • A site plan
  • Working architectural drawings
  • Structural drawings, if applicable
  • Mechanical drawings, if applicable

We review these drawings to ensure they meet the regulations of the:

If your site plan and permit drawing meet these regulations, we sign them for approval and your permit application is complete. We advise applicants to allow 21 working days for the approval process.

You can submit your Site Plan Control Application and Building Permit Application at the same time. We can't issue a Building Permit until you get a Site Plan Approval. Any changes added to either application needs to be included in the other, so both applications are consistent.

Zoning and Official Plan Amendments

If your proposal is more involved and requires changes to the Official Plan or Zoning By-law, you will need additional development application approval(s).

The Ontario Planning Act regulates this process. The City of Cambridge Development Planning Division reviews the Development Approval applications.

The application process includes the following steps:

  1. Submit a Pre-Submission Consultation application for review by the Development Review Committee. Please find instructions and submission requirements included in the application form. A meeting with the Committee will be scheduled within a month of the submission deadline.  The Committee informs the applicant of any items required for a complete development application, such as reports or studies.
  2. Submit your formal application for review by Development Planning staff to ensure you've included all required information and fees. We notify the applicant, in writing, whether the application is complete. City will provide a notice sign to the applicant along with instructions for how it should be posted on the property.
  3. A Notice of Complete Application letter regarding the requested Official Plan or Zoning Amendment is circulated to land owners within 120 metres of the subject land and various City departments and external agencies for comment. We also post a notice in a local newspaper about the proposed amendment. 
  4. A public meeting is scheduled for the next appropriately available meeting of the Planning and Development Committee. The applicant attends this meeting to present the proposal and address any questions or concerns the Committee may have.  We also post a notice of this meeting in a local newspaper. The public is invited to attend this meeting and provide their initial feedback about the application. 
  5. Following the public meeting, staff review the information received from Cite departments, external agencies, and the public and then prepare a recommendation report. This report is presented to another meeting of the Planning and Development Committee at which time they will make a decision. The public is welcome to attend this meeting and provide additional input to the Committee. 
  6. The Planning and Development Committee will make a decision on this application. This decision is presented at the next available City Council meeting at which time the decision is officially considered by Council and the decision is finalized. If Council approves the application, the applicant must fulfill the conditions of approval before we can enact and enforce the amendment by-law. 
  7. After City Council enacts the amendment by-law(s), notice of passing of the by-law is given to land owners and various public agencies. A 20-day appeal period begins the day after we publish this notice. The Ontario Municipal Board accepts appeals of Council's decision during this period. If there is no appeal, the amendment by-law comes into force as of the enacting by-law's date of passing.

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