Bushfire Mapping – New & Updated Provisions

Victoria’s State Government has identified areas of Victoria still at risk of extreme bushfire, including those affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which are not included in the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO). Planning Scheme Amendment GC13, gazetted on 3 October 2017, updates BMO mapping to implement the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. The updated mapping is based on Advisory Note 46: Bushfire Management Overlay Methodology and Criteria, which sets a standardised mapping approach across Victoria. It ensures the bushfire hazard is accurately mapped using a consistent criteria and that bushfire risk is adequately captured in the planning system.

In particular the Amendment:

  • Inserts new BMO maps into 64 of Victoria’s Planning Schemes;
  • Inserts schedules to Clause 44.06 in 47 planning schemes;
  • Deletes redundant references to the Wildfire Management Overlay (WMO); and
  • Deletes the BMO from some areas where the vegetation no longer meets the relevant criteria.

The new BMO schedules seek to streamline the planning permit process for applicants and councils by pre-setting bushfire protection measures and not requiring referral to the relevant fire authority (CFA) if all of the requirements are met. The schedules attempt to provide certainty to landowners about how bushfire provisions apply to their land and a fast track process for applicants and Council. The Government has indicated almost 70,000 properties will be included in a BMO schedule.

When considering proposals for buildings and works for the uses specified in Clause 44.06-2 (including accommodation, retail premises, office and many other uses) the new schedules to the BMO may:

  • Specify that a planning permit is not required; or
  • Specify different application requirements;
  • Exempt the application from referral to the relevant referral authority;
  • Specify or exempt notice (advertising) requirements for a planning permit application;
  • Include specific decision guidelines.

The new provisions do have transitional provisions at Clause 44.06-9, although these are limited. The requirements of Clause 44.06 Bushfire Management Overlay do not apply to a single dwelling, or a dependent person’s unit, when a building permit was issued before 03 October 2017, if:

  • vegetation is managed to accord with the bushfire attack level (BAL) assessment undertaken at the time the building permit was issued; and
  • a static water supply of:
    • 2500 litres on lots of 500 square metres or less
    • 5000 litres on lots of more than 500 square metres,

is provided to the satisfaction of Council.

  • no permit was required for such development before 3 October 2017.

Important implications for readers include:

  • Unless you meet all of the transitional provisions listed above, you may have current or even approved planning permit proposals which now require a new or amended planning permit for buildings and works in a BMO.
  • You will need to check whether controls on your site have changed as a result of the new BMO mapping.
  • Similarly, you may find you have current applications with Council which no longer require a planning permit, if the recent mapping has removed that property from a BMO;
  • If you are able to design a building that meets the requirements set out in the schedules, a planning permit application need not be referred to the relevant fire authority for comment, increasing certainty and decreasing timeframes for planning decisions;
  • The BMO schedules need to be checked carefully to understand the provisions and information requirements specific to any property.

You can check whether a property is affected by a BMO and the requirements of any schedule here. More information provided by the State Government is provided here

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