Bushfire Management Overlay Explained


The Bushfire Management Overlay Explained

What Is A Bushfire Management Overlay?

A Bushfire Management Overlay or BMO is an Overlay that identifies an area where there is a bushfire hazard.  The purpose of the BMO is to ensure that future development is only permitted where the risk to life and property can be effectively reduced and to ensure that all appropriate bushfire protection measures are implemented for any applicable development.

Many different developments and uses require a planning permit under a BMO.  Today we will focus on the planning requirements with respect to building a new dwelling or dwelling additions in areas covered by a Bushfire Management Overlay.

What To Do If You Have A Bushfire Management Overlay

If you have a Bushfire Management Overlay over your property you may need to get a planning permit to build one or more dwellings or extend your existing dwelling.  We can guide you through the next steps for this.

Depending on where your property is located and the specific controls that apply, there are a number of different scenarios that may apply.

Land Within Urban Areas

If you are looking to build or extend a dwelling in an urban area, or within an existing residential settlement you may require a planning permit, however the process is usually simpler than in rural vegetated areas.  As part of that planning application a bushfire hazard site assessment and bushfire management statement will be required.

Example Bushfire Hazard Site Assessment
Example of a Bushfire Hazard Site Assessment from Practice Note 65 prepared by DELWP

Bushfire Hazard Site Assessment

This document or plan will detail the features of the area and site including distance from the bushfire hazard, location of the dwelling and access arrangements to the site.



Bushfire Management Statement

This report will identify the defendable space requirements for the site and detail the construction level, access arrangements and water supply required for the proposal.  As part of the Bushfire Management Statement a Bushfire Management Plan will be required to be drawn up detailing all these requirements and specifying how the defendable space around the dwelling will be managed.  This plan will be endorsed as part of the planning permit.  An example of a Bushfire Management Plan has been created by the CFA (Country Fire Authority) here.

Schedule to the Bushfire Management Overlay

In certain areas the CFA and Council have predetermined the bushfire requirements.  The purpose of the preset controls is that it removes the need for an individual bushfire site assessment, provides for simpler planning application requirements and may not require a referral to the CFA.  This is to streamline and simplify the planning process and provides greater certainty for landowners.  In these areas you may not need a planning permit if you meet the set criteria.  The types of things that may be set include water supply requirements and building to a set BAL (bushfire attack level) rating.  To check if your land has predetermined bushfire controls you can check with the Council or a town planner.

Land Outside of Urban Areas

For some areas a specialist Bushfire Management Consultant may be required.  If the site is located within proximity to a bushfire hazard or within an area that contains unmanaged land the application may require expert assistance to determine whether the risk to life and property can be sufficiently reduced.  In some circumstances alternative measures such as a bushfire shelter may even be required.  A Bushfire Hazard Landscape Assessment may also be required for these types of applications which provide further details on the bushfire hazard within the locality of the site.

We assist many clients with planning applications in the Bushfire Management Overlay areas.  Where the site is located within an established residential area we can assist with the required documentation.  We also have contact with bushfire consultants to assist with the more complex sites.

If your property is located within a Bushfire Management Overlay and you are looking to build or extend you can contact us for complimentary advice on the next steps for your project.