Designing for Bushfire Protection

By Julia Bell and Kathryn Cuddihy

The ‘Victoria State Bushfire Plan’ states that Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world with a history of catastrophic bushfires.

The recent spate of fires over the summer months has brought planning and building in bushfire prone areas into the spotlight in recent weeks. I don’t want to get into a debate as to whether people should rebuild in areas of high bushfire risk, people don’t generally move to these areas with blinkers on. However, many of these houses are holiday homes which means that they aren't necessarily maintained on a regular basis. If people are choosing to live or buy in these areas, they need to be aware of their obligations to meet regulations set out in the planning provisions to ensure that their property and surrounding land are protected as best as they can in the event of a bushfire.

Another aspect of bushfire is the urban fringes. As sprawl has occurred in recent years, some of those that wouldn’t expect bushfires to affect their property are now on the front line. It is important that they understand their obligations and ensure that their property meets planning regulations.

Image Source: thinboyfatter on Flickr
The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have a section on their website that provides valuable resources and information to assist planning and building for bushfire protection.

Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) applies to land that may be significantly affected by a bushfire. If a BMO applies to your property, you will need planning permission for certain developments and new developments require bushfire protection measures. To find out the steps involved in applying for a planning permit click here.

On 31 July 2014 Amendment VC109 introduced changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes. To read more about the changes to bushfire planning provisions click here.

The DELWP also provides a series of handy practice notes that guides you through the planning process as easily as possible to ensure that items such as clauses related to landscape, siting and design, defendable space and construction and water supply and access are considered.

While it is vital to be vigilant in the lead up to and over the summer months and to have a fire plan in place and ready to enact if required, planning for future use can play a role in ensuring that your home and its surrounds are in the best position to survive a bushfire.

For further information as to how we can assist with you with permits, please contact Julia Bell  or call +3 9682 8568.

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