Changes to Bushfire Management Overlay: peri-urban areas

State wide changes to the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) mapping and the State Planning Policy Framework - Bushfire are proposed to be introduced via a Ministerial amendment shortly.

The peri-urban areas of Melbourne will be affected by the updated BMO mapping and in some municipalities, the areas mapped within the BMO will be reduced, while in other municipalities new areas will be included in the BMO.

These long anticipated changes to the BMO mapping will be introduced following targeted consultation with local government, including with peri-urban and growth areas Councils in Melbourne.

Consultation process

Targeted consultation is proposed to occur only with local government. Councils have been invited to participate in mapping verification workshops between August and September 2016.

Councils will have until mid September 2016 to request any changes to the mapping, after which time it is anticipated the new BMO mapping and policy changes would be introduced via a Ministerial amendment.

Mapping criteria

The government has indicated that the purpose of the updates is to ensure that bushfire risk is clearly identified in the planning scheme.

Currently, there are some areas mapped within the BMO that face a lower bushfire risk, where mitigation measures could be readily addressed through the building system. By way of example, Kananook Creek in Frankston is currently mapped within the BMO. Whilst there are other higher risk areas, such as Marysville which have not yet been mapped in the BMO.

The updated BMO mapping is intended to more accurately reflect the level of risk, in line with the criteria set out in the Department's Planning Advisory Note 46.

The Department has indicated that the 2016 updates are similar to the draft BMO mapping prepared in 2013, although there are some differences.

Transitional arrangements

No transitional arrangements are proposed.

This means that if the BMO is applied on in areas, where planning permits are already in place, there would be a new planning permit trigger.

BMO schedules proposed

The government is proposing to introduce schedules in many of the 'lower risk' areas (eg some growth areas Councils) where standard bushfire mitigation measures will be specified in the planning scheme.

The BMO schedules would specify a Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL) and other mitigation measures in various growth areas.

The updated maps in most municipalities are associated with BMO schedules. The Department has indicated that where other BMO schedules have been developed, these would be introduced as soon as possible after any mapping updates.

What the changes mean for Landowners

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

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

  • A planning permit would be required for any works triggered by the BMO;
  • That there are no transitional arrangements so if you have a current permit application under consideration, this may need to be amended to address the BMO; and
  • You may require additional permissions for works which are subject to existing planning or building permits if they have not yet been acted upon.

What the changes mean for Councils

Councils should:

  • Consider the updated BMO mapping and how it affects land within the municipality and any areas where there may be competing policy objectives;
  • Take the opportunity to participate in mapping verification workshops in September 2016; and
  • Identify any areas where schedules have been developed and consider the implication for workload.

Access to the updated maps and further information

Updated maps and the timetable for the Council mapping verification workshops are available for viewing.

We are also able to provide advice in relation to the implications of the BMO mapping updates.

Gabby McMillan is a solicitor at legal firm HWL Ebsworth.

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