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Wollongong City Council

Development on Bush Fire Prone Land

If your land is bush fire prone, you will need to follow additional rules when doing any residential development. These rules are important not just to protect your property, but also to protect people's lives.

Council classifies land as bush fire prone based on maps approved by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS). Generally we consider property to be bush fire prone if there is significant vegetation on the land, or within up to 100 metres.

You can check our online map to see areas that are considered bush fire prone.

You can also apply for a Planning Certificate to officially confirm the bush fire risk level of your property.

Development in bush fire prone areas needs to meet the laws and guidelines below.

You should also read the Wollongong Development Control Plan Chapter E16 - Bushfire Management PDF, 165.85 KB.

Additional laws may apply depending on your individual case. You can contact us for development advice if you need more information.

If you're doing work as complying development on bush fire prone land, you will need to get a Bush Fire Attack Level Certificate (BAL).

If your land is bush fire prone, your development application (DA) will need to show how the proposed development will try to minimise the impact of bush fires.

The required information may vary for each case, but as a general guide your application should include the information below. You can also contact Council for development advice to confirm what's needed for your application.

Bush Fire Assessment Report

This is used to assess the level of potential bush fire threat to your property, identify building and safety standards that need to be followed, and recommend ways to minimise risk.

Bush Fire Assessment Reports should show how the development will meet the objectives of the Planning for Bush Fire Protection development standards available on the Rural Fire Service (RFS) website.

Your Bush Fire Assessment Report must include:

  • A statement that the site is bush fire prone land, where applicable.
  • The location, extent and vegetation formation of any bush land on or within 100 metres of the site.
  • The slope and aspect of the site and any bush fire prone land within 100 metres of the site that may affect the likely path of any bush fires.
  • Any features on or next to the site that might mitigate the impact of a high intensity bush fire on the proposed development.
  • A statement assessing the likely environmental impact of any proposed bush fire protection measures.
  • Whether any building is able to comply with Australian Standard AS3959 in relation to the construction level for bush fire protection.

For most smaller DAs, your report can be relatively simple, and include a diagram showing the required features and approximate distances.

If you're building a single dwelling, the RFS also has an application kit that can help you in preparing your application.

Landscape Plan

If your DA for work on bush fire prone land needs to include a landscape plan, you should make sure this plan follows the principles in the RFS's Planning for Bushfire Protection development standards - particularly the information for asset protection zones.

When you apply for a Construction Certificate for building work on bush fire prone land, your application will be assessed against Australian Standard AS3959 - Construction of buildings in bush fire prone areas. This is in addition to any other standards or regulations that apply to your development.

You will need to provide a schedule of the applicable construction standards in line with the Australian Standard, and the NSW RFS Planning for Bush Fire Protection development standards. Once approved, this scheduled will need to be followed during construction.

Council may consult the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) for advice on your Development Application as part of our assessment process. We will usually do this if your application:

  • Proposes solutions to manage bush fire risk that are different to those recommended in the RFS Planning for Bushfire Protection development standards and has been prepared by a non-accredited bush fire consultant.
  • Is for a secondary dwelling (granny flat), dual occupancy, multi-dwelling housing or subdivision.

An Asset Protection Zone (APZ) is an area that's been cleared of fuel to create a buffer and help minimise the impact of bush fires on nearby properties - or assets.

Creating an APZ, either on your own land or on adjoining land, may need approval through a separate process. For example, you may need to create an easement, or have a Plan of Management in place to make sure the APZ can stay in place and be properly managed indefinitely.

If your development is next to Council-owned land, we usually will not support the creation of a new AZP where there isn't already a Council-managed AZP in place. This is because we can't guarantee that we will be able to maintain the land for the life of the development.

For more information on Asset Protection Zones, see NSW RFS Standards for Asset Protection Zones, or talk to us for Development Advice.

Under the Building Code of Australia, some types of buildings like offices, factories, warehouses, public car parks and other commercial or industrial facilities don't have to meet specific bush fire performance requirements in their construction.

However, these types of buildings do still need to meet the objectives of NSW RFS Planning for Bush Fire Protection development standards in terms of access, water services, emergency planning and landscaping or vegetation management.

There are also some smaller types of buildings, like fences, antennas, sheds and swimming pools that will need to be made of non-combustible material or separated from residential buildings in bush fire prone areas.

You can read more about these requirements in NSW RFS Planning for Bush Fire Protection development standards, or contact us for Development Advice if you have questions.