Bushfire rebuild controls in Wye River and Separation Creek

03 May 2016

The Minister for Planning has introduced new planning controls to facilitate the rebuilding of houses destroyed or damaged by bushfires in December 2015.

The planning controls, which apply to designated properties in Wye River and Separation Creek, were introduced on 4 April 2016 via amendment C89 of the Colac Otway Planning Scheme.

Landowners seeking to rebuild dwellings affected by the 2015 bushfires will have the benefit of:

  • Exemptions from several of the usual planning scheme requirements relating to the use of the land and vegetation removal; and
  • Greater certainty regarding the bushfire mitigation measures required for new dwellings.
Which properties can take the benefit of the controls?

Affected properties in Wye River and Separation Creek are identified in a schedule to Clause 52.03 of the Colac Otway Planning Scheme.

The new controls do not just apply to dwellings destroyed or damaged by the 2015 bushfires. Certain exemptions also apply to lots that were vacant at the time of the bushfire and lots containing dwellings that were not affected by the bushfires.

Planning scheme exemptions

The Wye River and Separation Creek Bushfire Affected Properties (March, 2016) has been incorporated into the Colac Otway Planning Scheme and provides affected properties with:

  • Exemptions from certain planning scheme requirements for single dwellings  (e.g. usual permit triggers relating to the use of the land and clearance of vegetation);
  • Allows the creation of defendable space around dwellings; and
  • Tailored bushfire mitigation measures for new dwellings including the Bushfire Attack Level, water supply, defendable space and, if proposed, the location of a private bushfire shelter.
Other changes
  • Planning applications to rebuild houses damaged by the 2015 bushfires will be exempt from some of the appeal rights that usually exist for objectors;
  • The CEO of Colac Otway Shire Council has been made the responsible authority for determining applications on affected properties, the intention being for faster decision making; and
  • CFA is not a statutory referral authority for applications under the new controls, as affected properties are exempt from the usual requirements of the Bushfire Management Overlay. However further advice regarding fire readiness and bushfire mitigation measures can still be obtained from the CFA.
Further information

You can find more information about the amendment here.

We are also able to provide advice in relation to the interpretation of the new controls and exemptions which may apply to your land.

This article was written by Mark Bartley, Partner and Gabby McMillan, Solicitor who previously worked at the CFA.

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