Other planning information

What if I have a Bushfire Management Overlay on my property?

Bushfire protection measures for new development in areas identified as being subject to a significant bushfire hazard are often affected by the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO).

A planning permit will generally be required to develop or subdivide land affected by the BMO however some exemptions do apply for certain types of development

Due to the complex nature building within an area of high bushfire risk it is encouraged to consult with a bushfire planning consultant who can help you prepare and manage a planning permit application. A list of accredited bushfire planning and building practitioners (Bushfire Consultants – BPAD) is available on the Fire Protection Association Australia website (note: this is not a comprehensive list)

For some areas in Hepburn Shire, BMO ‘Schedules’ (BMO1 and BMO2) have been developed to provide ‘fast-track’ planning permit requirements for dwellings. These areas are generally already subdivided and have a homogenous risk, which is well understood and can be addressed through ‘pre-set’ planning permit requirements (such as water supply, construction standards, access requirements).

The CFA has determined that the requirements in BMO1 and BMO2 will properly address the known fire risk. By pre-setting requirements in a Schedule, applicants are not required to establish requirements themselves ‘from scratch’ and are also provided with a higher level of certainty ‘up front’.

If a Schedule applies to your property, visit the DELWP page – Single Dwellings in the BMO – and follow the guidance for ‘Single Dwellings in a BMO Schedule – Fast Track Pathway’

The fast-track pathway will require you to download and complete a template Bushfire Management Plan (BMP). The BMP is mostly pre-filled and only requires you to select the relevant canopy separation, Bushfire Attack Level (BAL), water supply and access specifications. Once completed, submit the BMP to Council with your planning permit application to demonstrate that the requirements of the relevant Schedule have been met.

Other information to assist with preparation of applications


The purpose of the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) is to:

  • ensure that the development of land prioritises the protection of human life and strengthens community resilience to bushfire.
  • ensure that the location, design and construction of development appropriately responds to the bushfire hazard.
  • ensure development is only permitted where the risk to life, property and community infrastructure from bushfire can be reduced to an acceptable level.
  • specify location, design and construction measures for a single dwelling that reduces the bushfire risk to life and property to an acceptable level.

The BMO requires a planning permit for certain developments and subdivision, bushfire hazards to be assessed and implementation of bushfire protection measures. See the Bushfire Management Overlay for types of development and subdivision that require a planning permit.

You can find out if your property is covered by the BMO by visiting the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for instructions.

What do I need to provide with my planning application?

Particular documents are required with each type of planning application. Please see the links below, to the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning website for BMO document requirements.

Click on the type of development you are undertaking in the BMO:

You may need to engage in a qualified professional to undertake some of this work.

Please visit Planning and Bushfire Management Overlay on the CFA website for Help and Advice, there is a link to a list of accredited Bushfire Planning and Design Practitioners (BPAD).

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I check if I’m in the BMO

The State Government’s VicPlan mapping tool can be used to check the zone and overlays applying to a property, including the BMO

Why didn’t I receive notice before the BMO was applied to my property?

The changes to the BMO are about making new homes, our communities and the environment safer and more resilient to bushfire. The changes respond to the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission – recommendation 37.

The mapping update is based on the identification of extreme bushfire hazards by DELWP, fire authorities and council.

No public consultation was undertaken prior to the maps being introduced to avoid any potential for uncertainty and confusion about the mapping criteria and the technical nature of bushfire risk.

Where can I get more information about the BMO and why it’s been applied to my property?

DELWP has created a webpage specifically for the introduction of the updated BMO mapping.

The page has detailed information for landowners, including fact sheets, information on mapping criteria, and planning permit requirements

If there are specific questions that the webpage doesn’t answer, please contact one of our planning officers.

Do I have to retrofit my existing home?

While the BMO does not apply retrospectively to existing homes or approved developments, including subdivision, it is recommended that all property owners and occupiers take steps to improve the resilience of their property to bushfire

The CFA website has information on making homes and properties safer. You can prepare a Fire Ready Kit to help make your home safer

What does it mean if my property has been included in the BMO? Do I need a planning permit to build now?

If the BMO applies, a planning permit may be needed to subdivide your land, build a new house or extend an existing house by more than 50% of the existing floor area.

Other types of buildings and new uses may also need a planning permit.

Please speak to council officers to discuss planning permit requirements and processes.

What will the planning permit require me to do?

If a planning permit is required under the BMO, in addition to any other planning controls, you will need to meet specific bushfire application requirements. This may include completing bushfire site hazard and bushfire landscape assessments.

A planning permit may be granted by council once you have demonstrated that your proposed development meets the relevant application requirements and implements appropriate protection measures to manage bushfire risk.

What bushfire protection measures will be required in the BMO?

Although bushfire risk varies across our region, the bushfire protection measures in the BMO require future developments and uses to:

Build to current bushfire construction standards.
Site the building away from the bushfire hazard.
Manage vegetation and fuel loads
Install water tanks and provide fire truck access.
Refer your plan to the CFA, if required.

A mandatory planning permit condition will require these measures to be implemented and maintained at all times by the landowner

What does it mean if only part of my land is included in the updated mapping?

The mapping is based on bushfire hazards, not property boundaries.

It is common for properties to only be partially included in the BMO.

The BMO planning requirements are only triggered if new development is proposed on the part of a property that is in the BMO.

Will this cost me more?

Bushfire construction standards already apply to Bushfire Prone Areas under the Building Act and regulations. The bushfire protection measures required under the planning system are unlikely to substantially increase development costs.

There may be some costs associated with preparing bushfire hazard assessments and site plans. Standard planning permit application fees will also apply.

BMO schedules have been prepared for some townships and settlements by DELWP, the CFA and local councils. These remove certain application requirements, such as a bushfire hazard assessment. This may further reduce application costs for permit applicants.

What is a BMO schedule and what does it do?

A schedule to the BMO specifies bushfire protection measures for new homes based on local bushfire risk. Schedules have been developed by DELWP, the CFA and local councils. They include predetermined protection measures, streamlined rules, and reduced application requirements for new homes.

Landowners can use the bushfire protection measures predetermined in a schedule or choose to use the regular BMO process.



Hepburn Planning Scheme

The Hepburn Planning Scheme is the legislative framework which is used to assess all developments within the Hepburn Shire. Please click on the following link to access an on-line version of the Hepburn Planning Scheme.

Hepburn Planning Scheme


Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), provide a wide range of information in relation to Planning Permit processes, and the requirements for obtaining a Planning Permit. In addition to this you will be able to access all Planning Schemes, Zoning Information, and information on legislation and regulations. Please click on the following link to access the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Website.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning


Land Victoria

The Land Victoria website provides a range of services, and will allow you to purchase a variety of property reports, and / or title details that are required in most cases to be submitted with your Application for Planning Permit. To order a property report or Certificate of Title and / or related documents, please click on one of the following link:




The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hears and determines Planning and Environmental Disputes. For further information in relation to this process, please click on the following link to access the VCAT website:

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)


Civil Disputes

From time to time issues arise that are outside of Hepburn Shire Councils jurisdiction, and are considered a ‘civil matter’. An example of such an issue is boundary fencing between neighbouring properties. When such disputes arise, the matter is usually referred to the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria. This is a free dispute resolution service funded by the Victorian Government. For more information in relation to the dispute Settlement Centre, please click the following link:

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria



Following the approval of a Planning Permit for a subdivision, your Land Surveyor will submit all relevant information in relation to the subdivision to Council through an online planning system known as SPEAR. SPEAR allows applications to be compiled, lodged, managed, referred, approved and tracked online, anytime. To access SPEAR, please click the following link:

SPEAR (Online Subdivision Applications)


First peoples - state relations

If your site is located in an area listed for Cultural Sensitivity by Aboriginal Victoria then you may be required to submit a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) for more information in relation to the CHMP requirements, please click on the following link:

Aboriginal Victoria

Native Vegetation Removal

If you want to remove native vegetation, including trees, shrubs and grasses, you may need a permit from council. Penalties apply for removing native vegetation without a permit. Make sure you know if a permit is needed before you start removing any native vegetation.

There are special controls in Victoria which ensure removing native vegetation doesn’t have a negative effect on biodiversity.

These controls aim to:

  • avoid removal of native vegetation which makes a significant contribution to biodiversity
  • minimise the impact on Victoria’s biodiversity
  • ensure an offset is provided ie. planting native vegetation equal to that which was removed.

You may not need a planning permit if:

  • you are removing dead vegetation with a trunk diameter of 40cm or less at a height of 1.3m above ground level.
  • you are doing certain building works while constructing a home
  • you are removing the native vegetation to enable:
    – the operation or maintenance of an existing fence
    – the construction of a boundary fence between properties in different ownership.

    Please note:The clearing along both sides of the fence when combined must not exceed 4 metres in width, except where land
    has already been cleared 4 metres or more along one side of the fence, then up to 1 metre can be cleared along the
    other side of the fence.

  • you are implementing fire protection measures
  • the vegetation is on land less than 0.4 hectares in contiguous ownership.

A more detailed and thorough description of all of the exemptions from requiring a permit to remove native vegetation can be found at the State Governments Exemptions from Requiring a Planning Permit web page.

We strongly recommend you contact the Planning Unit to clarify if a permit is required on 5348 1577.

Biodiversity Assessment Report

If you need a planning permit to remove native vegetation, you must include a Biodiversity Assessment Report in your permit application. Find out how to obtain this report by visiting https://nvim.delwp.vic.gov.au/

Permit application checklist

If you want a permit to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation, you must submit the following information with your application:

  • Native Vegetation Information Management (NVIM) – Biodiversity Assessment Report
  • recent dated photographs of the native vegetation to be removed
  • topographic information
  • a copy of any property vegetation plan that applies to the site
  • where the removal, destruction or lopping of vegetation is to create defendable space, a statement explaining why it is required, when other available bushfire risk mitigation measures have been considered.
  • details of any other native vegetation permitted to be removed.

To find out more about state-wide rules regarding the removal of vegetation visit the State Governments web page which provides detailed information about Victorian native vegetation.


Non-Native Vegetation Removal

Under the Environment Significance Overlay a permit is required to move, destroy or lop any vegetation, including dead vegetation.

There are some exemptions which apply (refer to section 42.01-3 of the Hepburn Planning Scheme), including in the event of emergency works, fire protection or if the vegetation is considered a Noxious weed under section 58 or Section 58A of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.  You can find a consolidated list of declared noxious weeds here. Please note that the exemption will be subject to an assessment in the form of an arborists report or a site visit from a council officer. 


LCAs and Building in a Catchment Area

Land Capability Assessments and  Special Water Catchment areas

A special catchment is an area where water is collected by the natural landscape. In a catchment, all rain and surface water eventually flows to a creek, river, lake or ocean, or into the groundwater system.

Drinking water for many of the towns within the Hepburn Municipality is sourced from natural waterways.

If this source becomes contaminated, the safety of our drinking water supplies can be affected

There are tight controls on developing land in drinking water catchment areas as poorly planned development can pose a risk to the quality of both surface water and groundwater supplies.

The Hepburn Planning Scheme includes the Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO) that triggers a requirement to obtain a Planning Permit for a number of developments that may pose a risk to water quality

Any application for planning permit that involves the development of a new dwelling that is not connected to a reticulated sewerage system and a septic/wastewater management system is required to be installed, a Land Capability Assessment is required to be submitted with such a planning application.

A Land Capability Assessment (LCA)is a report that assesses the viability of onsite wastewater management on a site where there is no reticulated sewerage.  They are detailed written reports that assess various aspects of development sites, including the way it is proposed to be developed in the absence of reticulated sewer. The primary focus of an LCA is to determine the viability of onsite wastewater management by considering the risks presented to public health, environment, and local amenity. An LCA provides vital information on site-specific limitations for onsite wastewater management, as well as suitable management strategies to reduce impacts of the system on its surrounds.

An onsite wastewater management system or ‘septic tank system’ as stated in the Act, is required where reticulated sewer is not available. A septic tank system is a system for the bacterial, biological, chemical or physical treatment of sewage and includes all tanks, beds, sewers, drains, pipes, fittings, appliances and land used in connection with the system. This definition is provided in the Environment Protection Act 1970 along with other legal requirements for onsite wastewater management systems.

The objectives of an LCA are listed in the Code of Practice – Onsite Wastewater Management 2016 to include:

  • Assess the capability of the site to sustainably utilize and manage wastewater within the allotment boundaries.
  • Assess the capability of catchments to sustainably utilize and manage wastewater within sub-catchments or specific regions (where applicable).
  • Determine high risk and sensitive areas within allotments and within catchments.
  • Gather the relevant geographical and social information to adequately inform the process of designing the best practicable and most sustainable type of onsite wastewater treatment and effluent recycling/disposal system that should protect the health of the householders and the community, and protect the local environment from pollution.
  • Formulate a sustainable management plan (in accordance with the Code of Practice –Onsite Wastewater Management 2013 and the conditions in the treatment system CA and the Council Permit) that:
    • Must be carried out by the property owner to ensure that impacts on the environment or public health do not occur or are minimised.
    • Will ensure the beneficial re-use of the treated water, organic matter and nutrients (where applicable).

When is an LCA Required?

An LCA is required to support all applications to subdivide land, build a new dwelling or extend an existing dwelling that will result in additional bedrooms, or rooms that could be used as a bedroom (studio/office) in unsewered areas of the Hepburn Shire.

This will present at the Planning Permit Application stage. The LCA must provide sufficient detail about wastewater management and demonstrate that wastewater can be maintained within the allotment boundaries.

For more information go to the EPA Victoria website.