_bushfire requirement confusion

Readers of the Collie newsfeed will note that in December 2017 the Victorian State Government gazetted a change to the Victorian Planning Provisions which introduced Amendment VC140, which updated the Planning Policy Frameworks to provide a greater focus on bushfire risk-based planning.

At the time of Amendment VC140, it was acknowledged that all levels of bushfire hazard were now to be mapped through either the existing Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) or the new mapped areas titled ‘designated bushfire prone areas’ introduced through Amendment VC140.  The designated bushfire prone areas were those areas which required greater bushfire protection under the building regulations, whilst areas considered to be extreme bushfire hazards were identified in the BMO and required further bushfire consideration in planning schemes.

Under the instruction sheets and available information at the time of Amendment VC140, it was believed that no additional planning permit requirements or supporting information would be required for planning permit applications in those areas identified as a designated bushfire prone area.  Rather the result of Amendment VC140 would be to place bushfire protection measurements such as increased BAL ratings as conditions on a planning permit.

We now note however, that responsible authorities under seeking for planning permit applications in designated bushfire prone areas, that a bushfire hazard site assessment be prepared and lodged with the application.  This is despite the fact that Clause 13.02-1S (Bushfire Planning) of the Planning Policy does not specifically list a bushfire hazard site assessment as an application requirement.

Whilst we acknowledge that bushfire protection is an important measure, especially given regular bushfires across the State, we wonder whether the effects of Amendment VC140 are causing confusion as to what is considered appropriate development in designated bushfire prone areas?