Updated Bushfire Management Overlay introduces new permit requirements across Victoria

05 October 2017

New Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) mapping and schedules were introduced by Ministerial Amendment GC13 on 3 October 2017. These long anticipated changes to the BMO mapping were made after targeted consultation with local government and other stakeholders.

The new BMO mapping and associated permit requirements take effect immediately.

The new BMO mapping may affect development that already has gained planning or building permits and therefore the controls need to be carefully reviewed by landowners.

What changes have been made?

The key changes introduced via Amendment GC13 include:

  • Updated BMO mapping into 64 planning schemes; and
  • BMO schedules into 47 planning schemes (affecting approximately 70,000 lots).
What land is affected?

To find out if land is affected by the new BMO mapping or if a schedule applies you can obtain a free planning property report, click here.

Are there transitional arrangements?

The new BMO mapping took effect on 3 October 2017.

The transitional provisions in the BMO are very limited and only apply when the all of the following requirements are met:

  • Where a building permit was issued for a single dwelling or dependent person’s unit prior to 3 October 2017;
  • Vegetation is managed in accordance with the bushfire attack level (BAL) assessment undertaken when the building permit was issued;
  • Nominated static water supply is provided to the satisfaction of Council (eg 5,000 litres on a lot more than 500 sqm); and
  • No permit was required for that dwelling or dependent person’s unit prior to 3 October 2017.
What does this mean for current permit applications or other types of permits?

As a result of these changes you may need to apply for a new permit (or amend an existing application):

  • If you have a building permit for anything other than a single dwelling or dependent person’s unit;
  • If you have a building permit for a single dwelling but do not meet the conditions set out in the  transitional provisions (eg static water and vegetation management);
  • If you have a planning permit and have not obtained a building permit before the 3 October 2017; or
  • If you have a current permit application with Council that did not address bushfire matters.
Schedules to the BMO

In some areas in addition to new BMO maps, schedules to the BMO have also been introduced (eg in township areas where there bushfire risk is more homogenous).

The BMO schedules streamline the permit process for applicants and councils by pre-setting bushfire protection measures and not requiring referral to the CFA if all of the requirements are met.

The schedules do not remove all permit requirements so you need to check the schedules carefully to confirm if a permit is required.

Is there a process to review the mapping?

The BMO mapping has been applied over land in accordance with the criteria set out in
Planning Advisory Note 46 Bushfire Management Overlay Mapping Methodology and Criteria.

If you think that the mapping has been incorrectly applied over land you can seek a review.

The review process is explained here.

What the changes mean for Councils and landowners

Councils should consider the following:

  • Make information available to landowners about the BMO mapping and the new permit requirements;
  • Identify any areas where schedules have been developed and consider the implication for workload;
  • Ensure the Municipal Building Surveyor is familiar with the transitional provisions and consider how these may affect developments that have a building permit but may now need a planning permit;
  • Review the updated BMO mapping and how it affects land within the municipality and any areas where there may be competing policy objectives / strategic planning work; and
  • Consider utilising the Local Government Bushfire Planning Initiatives Fund that has been established by DELWP to assist councils to implement the updated BMO mapping.

Landowners should review the updated BMO mapping and see whether their land is affected.

If your land is affected by the BMO, landowners should:

  • Check the permit requirements carefully (even where a building permit has been granted); and
  • Seek advice regarding any additional permissions which may be required under the BMO and whether a schedule applies.
Further information

You can access further information about the mapping and resources here.

You can access further information about Amendment GC13 at the following here.

We are also able to provide advice in relation to the implications of the BMO mapping updates, including information about permit requirements, interpretation of the provisions and the schedules.

This article was written by Gabby McMillan, Solicitor who previously worked at the CFA, David Vorchheimer, Partner.

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