Developments in bushfire prone areas

Proposed developments in bushfire prone areas may require additional building setbacks, landscaping and use of certain construction materials.

However, the type and extent of requirements that apply depend on the type of development, the degree of bushfire hazard and the distance from the bushfire hazard.

A property is deemed to be on bushfire prone land if it is wholly or partly located in the orange, yellow and red areas in the below map of North Sydney.

View North Sydney bushfire prone land map

The red areas are 'buffer zones' and comprise land that may be directly affected by a bushfire as a result of ember attack or exposure to radiant heat. Red buffer zones in North Sydney are either 100metres or 30metres in breadth.

Land may also be identified as bushfire prone on a Planning Certificate issued under section 149 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Where a development is proposed on bushfire prone land, a Bush Fire Assessment Report must be submitted with all development applications classed as:

  1. Integrated Development, or
  2. Local Development

Integrated Development

Development applications for 'integrated development' (under Section 91 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) must be referred to the Rural Fire Service for approval or refusal of the application.

If the Rural Fire Service refuses an application, Council must also refuse the application. However, if the Rural Fire Service approves an integrated development application, it may still be rejected by other authorities, including Council, on other planning grounds. 

Section 100B of the Rural Fires Act also requires that a Bush Fire Safety Authority must be obtained from the NSW Rural Fire Service for the following types of developments:

  • subdivision of bushfire prone land that could lawfully be used for residential or rural residential purposes, or
  • development of bushfire prone land for a special fire protection purpose, including:
    • a school
    • a child care centre
    • a hospital (including a hospital for the mentally ill or mentally disordered)
    • a hotel, motel or other tourist accommodation
    • a building wholly or principally used as a home or other establishment for mentally incapacitated persons
    • seniors housing within the meaning of State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004
    • a group home within the meaning of State Environmental Planning Policy No 9 - Group Homes
    • a retirement village
    • any other purpose prescribed by the regulations, including:
      • manufactured home estates (within the meaning of State Environmental Planning Policy No 36 - Manufactured Home Estates), comprising two or more caravans or manufactured homes, used for the purpose of casual or permanent accommodation (but not tourist accommodation)
      • sheltered workshops, or other workplaces, established solely for the purpose of employing persons with disabilities
      • respite care centres, or similar centres, that accommodate persons with a physical or mental disability or provide respite for carers of such persons
      • student or staff accommodation associated with a school, university or other educational establishment

Local Development

Local Development, which includes the subdivision or the construction of Class 1, 2 or 3 buildings (under the Building Code of Australia) on bushfire prone land cannot be approved (under 79BA of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) unless it:

  • conforms to the NSW Rural Fire Service's Planning for Bush Fire Protection specifications and requirements, or
  • the consent authority has consulted with the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service concerning measures to be taken with respect to the development to protect persons, property and the environment from danger that may arise from a bushfire. This applies for developments proposing an alternative to meeting the specifications and requirements of Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006).

Therefore, the consent authority is only required to consult with the Rural Fire Service when a proposed development does not comply with Planning for Bush Fire Protection.

Advice received from the Rural Fire Service is intended to assist the consent authority in their final determination of the proposal.

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