New planning controls introduced in Victoria, Bendigo to manage the impact of bushfire on property

DEVASTATING: The remains of an Ironbark home destroyed in the 2009 Black Saturday fires. The expansion of planning controls aims to minimise the risk of bushfire to property. Picture: JULIE HOUGH
DEVASTATING: The remains of an Ironbark home destroyed in the 2009 Black Saturday fires. The expansion of planning controls aims to minimise the risk of bushfire to property. Picture: JULIE HOUGH

Thousands more properties across Greater Bendigo now fall under planning controls intended to minimise the impact of bushfire, a response to the Royal Commission that followed the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

This week the state government introduced significant extensions to the mapping of the bushfire management overlay, which triggers a planning permit for certain developments considered to be at risk of extreme bushfire.

The City of Greater Bendigo’s co-ordinator of strategic planning, Andrew Cockerall, said about 10,600 additional properties in the municipality were now subject to the overlay; prior to the changes, there were 4800.

Six hundred of these are non-residential properties, such as Crown land or industrial land; 9000 already contain dwellings; and 1000 are vacant.

Most are to the north-west of the city, in areas such as Maiden Gully, and Heathcote.

Mr Cockerall said it was the vacant blocks that would be most affected by the changes, as new developments would need to meet the requirements of the overlay.

Existing properties will not be affected, unless owners plan to construct new buildings or extensions.

Planning permits that have already been approved are also unaffected, but those that have not yet been determined will need to meet the requirements of the overlay.

There are some exemptions for certain extensions and outbuildings, depending on size.

New developments will need to be built to current bushfire construction standards, be located away from bushfire hazards, and have a suitable water tank and access.

Vegetation and fuel loads will also need to be managed, with owners of both future and existing buildings allowed to clear any vegetation within 10 metres of a dwelling, and the understorey within 50 metres, without a permit.

The mapping was applied to areas of vegetation greater than four hectares and properties within 150 metres of these areas, across the state.

Map of the overlay in urban Bendigo – story continues below document

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning says it will regularly review mapping. Those who do not think their land should fall under the overlay should contact the council.

The City of Greater Bendigo is in the process of informing affected landowners by mail.

For more information or to find out if your property is affected, visit the department website or the City of Greater Bendigo website.