With a lot of our focus at the moment on COVID-19, it is easy to forget that at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 we were in the throes of devastating bushfires. For prospective developers of land, it is now more important than ever to ensure that they have wrapped their heads around the new Planning for Bushfire Protection Guide and what is means for subdividing land, especially land that is wholly or partially bushfire prone.
Recently the Planning for Bushfire Protection 2019 Guide was given legislative effect and replaced the old 2006 version. Updates between the two versions reflect an improved scientific understanding of bush fires and changes to building standards. As suggested by the name, the Guide provides substantial guidance for developers in fulfilling their obligations under the Rural Fires Act and Rural Fires Regulation.
Under section 100B of the Rural Fires Act, if a developer proposes to carry out a subdivision of land to create lots that could lawfully be used for residential or rural-residential purposes (such as lots zoned General Residential, Large Lot Residential or Primary Production), then they must apply for and obtain a bush fire safety authority from NSW Rural Fire Service before they start the development.
An application for a bush fire safety authority must include a classification of vegetation surrounding the property in accordance with the system in the new Guide, as well as an assessment of the extent to which the proposed development conforms with or deviates from the standards set out in the Guide.
However, there are some exemptions to the requirement for a bush fire safety authority and one of those exemptions is available only to developers in the Western New South Wales district. This district includes areas such as Oberon, Orange and further west, but does not cover Bathurst or Lithgow.
The exemption can be used where:
- Each lot created by the subdivision will be greater than 10 hectares in size;
- The proportion of bush fire prone land in each lot is less than 10 percent of the total lot size; and
- Each lot has direct access to an existing public road.
There are also a number of other exemptions such as where the land is being subdivided merely for the purpose of converting an existing dwelling to a dual occupancy.
If you are someone developing land or looking to develop land in the future, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly Property Team on 1800 650 656 to discuss how the new Guide affects you and your development. We have a wide range of information at our fingertips and can give you practical advice regarding your options and the steps involved.
Aaron Strickland | Solicitor