Bushfire Changes = New Opportunities

In mid 2014 the Victorian Government introduced a more streamlined process for navigating the complexities of bushfire planning provisions relevant to permit applicants. The reforms are designed to provide greater flexibility for new, replacement and upgraded single dwellings. The previous regulatory regime did not allow some landowners to build on sites which could not meet the requirements of defendable space, due to the lack of flexibility within the regulatory system.

The 2014 changes increase that flexibility and will provide some land owners with the opportunity to develop land that may previously have been refused a planning permit on the grounds of bushfire risk.

The new policy regime:

  • Still requires a Bushfire Management Statement (BMS) to be completed
  • Includes increased flexibility and the opportunity to use ‘alternative measures’ to meet a number of the fire protection objectives;
  • Continues to apply the 10/30 and 10/50 rules;
  • Removes the ability of the CFA to outright refuse applications relating to single dwellings and subdivisions. Rather, the CFA is now given a ‘recommending’ role and Council will be able to make the final decision.

Practitioners should be aware that these changes may provide an opportunity to revisit jobs refused on the grounds of bushfire risk under the old regime.

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