What is the regulatory framework?

The planning and building systems regulate land use and development to ensure bushfire hazard and risk are considered and managed. Together they form the regulatory framework.

Image of open book with text and tick on one side and text and cross on the other side

There has been progressive reform to the planning and building systems following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission to improve land use and development responses to bushfire.

Key elements of the planning and building regulation framework are illustrated in the diagrams below.

View diagrams of the Integrated Planning and Building Regulatory Framework for Bushfire in Victoria:

The key elements of the regulatory framework are:

Bushfire mapping considers the location, size and type of vegetation (fuel) in a given area and is informed by the best available science.

Mapping criteria identifies whether an area should be designated a Bushfire Prone Area, and if a Bushfire Management Overlay should apply. The mapping triggers planning and building system requirements.

State land use planning policy, local strategies, and statutory provisions for bushfire are included in Victorian planning schemes. They provide the framework for state, regional and local planning for bushfire. They include:

State Planning Policy - clause 13.02-1S Bushfire Planning

The State policy provides the broad framework for integrating bushfire policy and provisions in planning schemes. Its aim is to strengthen community resilience to bushfire by considering bushfire in planning our cities and towns and ensuring that bushfire protection measures are part of new development.

The policy must be applied when land is within a designated bushfire prone area, the Bushfire Management Overlay or is proposed to be used or developed in a way that may create a bushfire hazard.

For more information on the policy see:

Clause 71.02-3 Integrated decision making

Clause 71.02 sets out the operation of the planning policy framework which provides overarching guidance for planning decisions.

Clause 71.02-3 explicitly requires the protection of human life to be the priority policy consideration in decision making when assessing a proposal that has, or could have, a bushfire risk.

Strategic planning proposals, planning policy development, planning scheme amendments and planning permit applications must show how the protection of human life has been prioritised in the first instance.

Clause 44.06 Bushfire Management Overlay

The Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) regulates development on land with the potential to be affected by extreme bushfires. All BMO areas fall within a Bushfire Prone Area.
See the building construction requirement

The BMO includes a statutory provision in planning schemes and a map showing where the provisions apply to land. Most development in the BMO requires a planning permit. The following bushfire issues will need to be considered: bushfire hazard, building siting, defendable space, on-site water supply and emergency vehicle access.

Local planning schemes can include BMO schedules. These specify development requirements tailored to suit the local bushfire risk. A schedule is labelled as BMO followed by a number (e.g. BMO2) on planning maps and in planning schemes.

Find a BMO schedule in a local planning scheme at Planning Schemes Online

Clause 53.02 Bushfire Planning

Clause 53.02 Bushfire Planning sets out the bushfire protection measures and other requirements for development in the BMO. The application of bushfire protection measures, such as building siting, design and defendable space, ensures it responds to the bushfire hazard and protects human life.

Clause 52.12 Bushfire Protection: Exemptions

Some buildings and works and vegetation removal are exempt from planning permit requirements for bushfire protection. These include community refuges, private bushfire shelters and managing vegetation around existing homes and along fence lines.

The Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2018 specify requirements for some new buildings in declared Bushfire Prone Areas (BPA).  It is used to ensure that bushfire protection is considered as part of the building permit.

Bushfire construction requirements apply, referred to as the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL), to sensitive land uses such as residential buildings, schools and hospitals in the BPA.

A site assessment will be required to determine the BAL.

Where the site assessment is done as part of the planning permit, a second assessment is not required at the building permit stage.

More on building in bushfire prone areas

Page last updated: 07/08/20