In 2015, the State Government announced a package of reforms to help protect lives and property against the threat of bushfires throughout Western Australia.
Reforms were introduced to set out new requirements for people intending to develop and/or build in bushfire prone areas, including the need to assess a property’s bushfire risk and take additional construction measures to limit the impact of bushfires.
Information provided here can help you understand how these changes may affect you and any development you may be considering.
They provide important information on the land use planning requirements if you are planning to develop in a designated bushfire prone area within Western Australia. These designated areas are identified on the map of bush fire prone areas.
A summary for local governments has been prepared.
Do these changes affect me?
Bushfire planning requirements apply to all new planning proposals for habitable buildings (e.g. house, restaurant, office, etc.) or specified buildings in areas designated as bushfire prone on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas (unless exemptions apply). You can identify your property on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas by visiting the DFES website. If your property is located within a bushfire prone area according to this map then you may need to undertake a bushfire attack level (BAL) assessment. A four-month transition period applies from when your property is designated as being bushfire prone.
Who is exempt?
If you are building a single house on a lot/s less than 1,100m2 you will not require a BAL assessment for planning, even if your house is going be built in a designated bushfire prone area. However, the building permit approval process may still require a BAL assessment or BAL Contour Map. For further information on building permits please visit the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety's website or contact your local government.
If you are located in an area where a local planning scheme does not apply then you will also be exempt from undertaking a BAL assessment.
There may be limited circumstances where the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas identifies a property as being within a bushfire prone area but the property is no longer within 100 metres of bushfire prone vegetation (that would trigger such a designation). This may be for example where the land has been cleared to create new residential lots since the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas was designated.
When is planning approval required?
Development currently requiring planning approval will continue to do so. In addition any habitable building (e.g. house, restaurant, office, etc) or specified building with a BAL rating of BAL-40 or BAL-Flame Zone will require a development application seeking planning approval, even if they would normally be exempt under a separate section of the Local Planning Scheme Regulations.
Who can prepare a BAL assessment?
It is strongly recommended that you use an accredited Level 1 BAL Assessor or an accredited Bushfire Planning Practitioner to undertake a BAL assessment, or an accredited Bushfire Planning Practitioner to prepare a BAL Contour Map. The Fire Protection Association (FPA) Australia (FPA) is the recognised accrediting body in Western Australia and they can assist you in finding a professional. See www.fpaa.com.au.
Special arrangements exist in remote locations. See fact sheet: Building a house in a remote area.
Frequently asked questions