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Building in a Bushfire Management Overlay

Bushfire planning

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)

Applications and assessment under the BMO

Council will assess applications in accordance with the BMO and clause 53.02

Applications are generally required to be referred to the CFA and must meet all CFA requirements. The CFA will advise Council what permit conditions it requires or if it objects to the granting of a planning permit.

Permits issued in accordance with the BMO must include a mandatory condition requiring the owner to maintain the bushfire mitigation measures included in the planning permit on a continuing basis.

Similarly, planning permits issued for land subdivision in accordance with the BMO must include a mandatory condition requiring a S173 agreement to be registered on title including the bushfire protection measures of the planning permit.

As the issues are complex, it may be advisable to obtain assistance from a qualified consultant.

The permit application process will vary depending on the type and location of the development

Properties within a BMO Schedule

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

You can also contact Council’s Planning Services on 5348 1577.

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.