The Effect of Bushfire Protection Building Codes in NSW

7 Feb 2014
EAC
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Following the Sydney bush fires in 2001/2002 a Joint Parliamentary Inquiry was established and, in its 28 June 2002 report, endorsed the release of Planning for Bushfire Protection 2001. Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006  is a revised NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) publication outlining the required bush fire protection measures for development applications located on land that has been designated as bush fire prone.

Planning law in NSW now requires new development on bush fire prone land to comply with the provisions of Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006.

This approach to planning links the bush fire hazard for a site with the implementation of appropriate bush fire protection measures. These bush fire protection measures must be addressed in any development applications located on bush fire prone land.

What is a Bush Fire Prone Area

A bush fire prone area is an area of land that can support a bush fire or is likely to be subject to bush fire attack. Bush fire prone areas are identified on a bush fire prone lands map which have been prepared for most councils across NSW. The map identifies bush fire hazards and associated buffer zones within a local government area.

Bush fire prone land maps are prepared by local councils across the State of NSW and are certified by the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS). New development on areas identified as bush fire prone are subject to the development and planning controls of ‘Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006’ and must be designed to improve the survivability of the development and the occupants that are exposed to a bush fire hazard.

To find out if you live in a bush fire prone area, contact your local council and ask to view your local bush fire prone land map. This information will also be noted on the 149 Certificate for the property, obtainable from council.

Source – RFS NSW

What Does this mean for Owners, Managers and Agents?

The cost to rebuild property in the event it is destroyed, or if the owners wish to redevelop has been seen to be drastically increased, to comply with the relevant zoning of the land, especially in high risk zones. This has been witnessed following recent fires in the Blue Mountains to amount to over $100,000 in additional costs in some circumstances. It is therefore important to draw property owners attention to the relevant zoning of land and the potential considerations for rebuild costs this could have on them.

There is also a concern that Agents and Property Managers could be drawn into actions relating to the additional costs, or bushfire zone not being drawn to the owners or potential purchaser’s attention to take into consideration when purchasing the property.

For example, a property is purchased with an existing building. One year later, the owner decides they wish to demolish and rebuild a new home on the property. They then find that due to bushfire zoning, they are not permitted to build a standard home, and to comply with the zoning they are required to spend an additional $100,000 over the standard budgeted cost for a similar home in a low bushfire zone. The owner could pursue an action against the Agent for not declaring the zoning and drawing the potential additional cost to their attention.

The cost is also extremely important for Strata Managers to consider and ensure they are obtaining Insurance Valuations from a professional valuer who is specifically taking the bushfire zoning into account when providing the sums insured for insurance purposes.

It may also be prudent for Property Managers who have properties located in bushfire prone areas to advise their clientele to review their bushfire zoning and review their insurances appropriately.

Should you have any queries relating to the above, please contact Drew Ferns, Branch Manager OAMPS Wollongong on +61 2 4226 8723.

Source: Drew Ferns, Branch Manager, OAMPS Wollongong.

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