Regulations in Victoria
Victoria includes two state-based planning controls and an overarching national code. Follow the information below to find your relevant building and planning regulations if you live in Victoria.
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The Building Code of Australia
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) applies to all dwellings and most significant structures throughout Australia. The BCA regulates the design of buildings (and the materials used in their construction) to ensure a minimum standard of health and safety. The BCA also includes national standards for the construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas. These include AS 3959:2018 and the NASH Standards for steel framed construction. These standards are compulsory and set minimum controls for ensuring that dwellings are resistance to bushfire.
Bushfire Prone Areas
A Bushfire Prone Area (BPA) is a mapping that invokes use of building regulations. If your property falls within a BPA, this means that your property (or the land on which it is located) has been assessed as having an increased level of bushfire risk compared to other parts of Australia. Structures that are located within a BPA must comply with additional building controls. To see if you are in a BPA, go to mapshare.vic.gov.au/vicplan/.
Bushfire Management Overlay
The Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) is a mapping, a control in the planning scheme regulations for areas that have a high or extreme bushfire risk. To see if you are in a BMO area, go to mapshare.vic.gov.au/vicplan/. If your property falls within a Bushfire Management Overlay, the BMO will specify the regulatory actions that you will need to follow, including applying for special planning permits, coordinating with local fire agencies and complying with additional planning and building regulations. For information, visit BMOs for land owners.
BMO planning controls cover the management of vegetation and open spaces, access for firefighting, water supplies, signage, and the location of buildings. If the BMO applies to your property, both the Building Code of Australia and additional state planning controls will be enforced. More information can be found on the Victorian State Government’s planning site, see Building in the BMO.
Depending on where you live and the type of structure you’re planning to build, you might have to follow a specific regulatory pathway. These pathways (shown in the diagram below) are used to simplify the planning process. Check with relevant authorities before taking any actions or decisions.
Regulatory pathways for Victoria
The above diagram describes the following pathways:
- If you are in a BPA but not a BMO, then you are required to undertake a site assessment in accordance with AS 3959:2018 and build to the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) that results from that assessment. The minimum BAL you can build to in a BPA is BAL 12.5. Despite there being no additional controls, we suggest that you read this Bushfire Best Practice Guide and attempt to go beyond the minimum level of compliance. Similarly, if you are not in a BMO or BPA there is still value in reading this Guide to increase your understanding of the potential and future risks of bushfires. While no regulations may apply currently, this could change in the future, so thinking about your bushfire risk is important.
- A BMO schedule contains pre-defined bushfire protection measures for building or extending a single dwelling. These schedules apply to some locations in Victoria where the bushfire hazard is consistent across the locality. These measures are used to streamline the building application process. Find out if a schedule applies at your location by talking to your local council or by creating a Planning Property Report using VicPlan.
- Existing settlements include properties in the following zones: Neighbourhood Residential Zone, General Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone, Low Density Residential Zone, Township Zone or Rural Living Zone.
- Pathway One will apply if the site meets certain requirement and all approved measures.
- Pathway Three will apply to subdivisions.
- Pathway Two will apply if you do not meet the requirements of Pathway One.
If the requirements of Pathway One (clause 53.02-3) cannot be met or you choose not to meet them, then you will be assessed under Pathway Two (clause 53.02-4). To assist in determining your pathway, a tutorial has been provided to produce a property report in Victoria.
For those outside of Victoria, check the relevant planning regulation in your state or territory and consider talking to you local council or local authority for more information.
Detailed information on Standards related to building in bushfire prone areas throughout Australia can be found in the following resources: