Bushfire planning and building resources


Bushfire Response Planning Unit

The Bushfire Response Planning Unit has been established to help people complete the rebuilding in fire-affected areas and provide specialist planning advice for people building in areas of identified fire risk across the state, which is identified by the Wildfire Management  Overlay (WMO).

For further information on the types of assistance the unit can provide please download the Information Sheet below:

Information Sheet (PDF - 100 KB)
Information Sheet - Accessible Version (DOC - 36 KB)

The Bushfire Response Planning Unit can be contacted by phone on 03 9637 9553.

Planning for wildfire protection

Practice note 21 - Planning for wildfire protection, revised February 2010 (PDF - 168 KB)
This practice note provides guidance about the wildfire protection provisions in planning schemes.

Under Clause 15.07 of the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes, planning and responsible authorities must have regard to several documents when considering land use or development in wildfire risk environments, including:

Wildfire Management Overlay

Information about the Wildfire Management Overlay is available from www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/WMO

Vegetation removal for bushfire protection

Interim measures for bushfire protection - the '10/30 right'

After the experiences of the devastating bushfires in February 2009, the Victorian Government made it simpler for landowners in bushfire prone areas to reduce the bushfire risk around their homes as part of their wider preparations for bushfire.

The Government introduced an interim planning provision, Clause 52.43 -Interim measures for bushfire protection (PDF - 27 KB), to enable the removal, destruction or lopping of vegetation to reduce fuel load around existing buildings used for accommodation and on roadsides without a planning permit, to assist with minimising risk to life and property from bushfire. The planning permit exemptions in Clause 52.43 are commonly referred to as the '10/30 right' because of the distances within which different types of vegetation can removed for bushfire protection without a planning permit.

The permit exemptions, including the '10/30 right', have been extended until 1 March 2012 while the Government implements new planning provisions for bushfire and vegetation removal in response to the recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

More information about the interim planning provision is available from the DSE website and Advisory Note 32 - Interim measures for bushfire protection, August 2010 (PDF - 476 KB).

Before you remove vegetation for bushfire protection you should read the information about understanding bushfire risk provided in this information sheet.

Vegetation removal for bushfire protection - information for landowners and residents (PDF 196 KB)
Vegetation removal for bushfire protection (MS Word 74 KB)

Information about other planning permit exemptions for removing vegetation in preparation for bushfire is provided in the DSE fact sheet Clearing of native vegetation to prepare for bushfires (PDF - 598 KB) and in these DPCD practice notes and advisory notes.

More information about understanding your bushfire risk, preparing your property and developing a Bushfire Survival Plan based on your decision to leave early or to actively defend your property is available from the CFA website or by contacting the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

Managing landslip and erosion risk

Vegetation plays an important role in reducing erosion and stabilising soil to minimise the risk of landslip.

Erosion occurs when soil is lost through rain, wind or the repeated movement of people, animals or vehicles. In dry periods erosion can cause dust problems. During and after significant rainfall events, erosion can lead to blocked drains, damaged pumps and damaged stream systems by clouding the water and smothering habitat. Erosion results in the loss of valuable topsoil, reduces soil fertility and makes it difficult for grass or other vegetation to regrow.

A landslip can occur when the ground is not strong enough to support its own weight, causing a slope to collapse. Land slippage can result in significant damage to buildings and is a risk to life, both on and below the landslip area. The removal of vegetation, particularly deep-rooted, long lasting trees, and plants that have a large root system, can increase landslip risk.

More information about erosion and landslip is available on the Department of Primary Industries website.

How can I identify landslip and erosion risk?

  • Some areas prone to landslip or erosion are identified in planning schemes by the Erosion Management Overlay. You can check if an Erosion Management Overlay applies to your land by obtaining a Planning Property Report. Not all areas that are prone to landslip or erosion are covered by the Erosion Management Overlay. For more information about the risk in your area contact your local council.

How should I respond to landslip and erosion risk?

  • While vegetation is now able to be removed around houses for bushfire protection without council approval, you should consider landslip and erosion risk before doing so. Vegetation management is only one part of preparing your property for bushfire and there are other important steps you can take.

  • Information about preparing for bushfire in areas prone to landslip is provided in this information sheet:

Preparing for bushfire in areas prone to landslip (PDF - 200 KB)
Preparing for bushfire in areas prone to landslip - accessible Word version (DOC - 63 KB)

Rebuilding dwellings damaged or destroyed by bushfire

The Government has streamlined the planning process for rebuilding dwellings, dependent person's units and buildings used for agriculture that were damaged by the 2009 bushfire, through the introduction of Clause 52.39 - 2009 Bushfires - Replacement buildings (PDF 31 KB) to all planning schemes. Clause 52.39 replaces the normal planning process with a simpler plan endorsement process.

Amendment VC57 introduced Clause 52.39 on 14 May 2009.

Information about Clause 52.39 is available from this advisory note:

Bushfire replacement buildings - Amendment VC57 (PDF 172 KB)

To ensure that specific bushfire safety measures continue to be applied to dwellings being rebuilt following the 2009 bushfires and located in a Wildfire Management Overlay, amendments have also been made to the Building Regulations 2006 to require the provision of dedicated on site water supply for fire fighting purposes and access for emergency vehicles through the building permit process. See Building Amendment (Bushfire Safety) Regulations 2010.

Information about rebuilding in areas affected by bushfire is available from the Building Commission website or phoning the Bushfire Building Advice line on 1300 360 320.

New standard for the construction of houses in response to bushfire risk

Following the 2009 bushfires the Victorian Government brought forward the introduction of the new Australian Standard AS3959-2009 – Design and construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas. This new standard will improve the defensibility and resilience of homes at risk of bushfire.

The new building standard applies to all new homes to be built in the State of Victoria; from homes on the fringes of the metropolitan area to those adjacent to our state forests; to communities devastated by the Black Saturday fires.

New buildings across Victoria must now be assessed for bushfire attack level (BAL) rating. The BAL is determined by a number of factors including aspect, slope and the proximity and type of vegetation at the site.

Information about the Australian Standard is available from the Building Commission website or by phoning the Bushfire Building Advice line on 1300 360 320, which operates from 9.00am to 5.00pm on Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

Bushfire provisions for public buildings

Ministerial Direction No. 3 - Bushfire Provisions for Buildings of a Public Nature applies to construction undertaken by Victorian Government departments and agencies.

A bushfire attack risk assessment is required as part of the design process.

More information...

Bushfire recovery

An immediate step in the wake of the 2009 fires was to ensure there were no impediments in the planning and building systems to the process of bushfire recovery and to provide for temporary accommodation on sites affected by the bushfires.

Clause 52.38 - 2009 Bushfire recovery (PDF - 27 KB), was introduced to all planning schemes through Amendment VC53 on 23 February 2009. It removes the need to obtain a planning permit in certain circumstances to assist bushfire recovery operations including site clean-up and providing temporary accommodation. On 14 May 2010, Amendment VC70 extended the dates for cessation of use to 31 March 2012.

Information about post-bushfire hazards, safety considerations and temporary homes is available from the Building Commission website or phoning the Bushfire Building Advice line on 1300 360 320, which operates from 9.00am to 5.00pm on Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

For Information about the bushfire reconstruction and recovery visit the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (VBRRA) website or contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Hotline on 1800 240 667.

Private bushfire shelters

The Victorian Government has introduced new interim building regulations for ‘private bushfire shelters’ (bushfire bunkers).  Under the new regulations a building permit must be obtained before a private bushfire shelter can be constructed. 

A private bushfire shelter (Class 10c building) can only be issued a building permit if the private bushfire shelter is in association with an existing dwelling (Class 1 building).  A private bushfire shelter must also comply with the performance requirements set out in the Building Regulations including safe access and egress and a tenable environment within the shelter for the period of occupancy.

At present, fire 'bunkers', 'refuges' or 'shelters' are NOT covered by any Australian Standard nor recognised by the Building Code of Australia. There is an Australian Standard for construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas that is adopted in the Building Code of Australia; however this only applies to new residential buildings built throughout Victoria.

If you are considering purchasing or installing a private bushfire shelter please visit the Building Commission website to find out about the new regulations, accreditation process and permit requirements or phone the Bushfire Building Advice line on 1300 360 320, which operates from 9.00am to 5.00pm on Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission investigated the causes and responses to the bushfires which swept through parts of Victoria in 2009. The Commission delivered its Final Report on 31July 2010.

View the Final Report on the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission website.

More information

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