The government of the Australian state of Victoria has relaxed tight planning controls that were set in place after the Black Saturday fires of 2009, enabling building to take place in bushfire-prone areas. The tough building controls were recommended by The Black Saturday Royal Commission and were initially adopted by the state government, to control new development in areas of higher fire risk. However, the controls left some people unable to build on their land or sell it.
People would still be encouraged to build safer homes, but several changes would be introduced after 18 months of consultation. Private bushfire bunkers would be allowed as an alternative safety measure; “more sensible” bushfire safety measures could be implemented in new master-planned estates; and a $700,000 assistance fund would be set up to enable affected landowners and councils to streamline planning processes.
The changes will allow landowners to make planning applications that, while still subject to council planning approval, give them an appeals process they did not previously have if the plans were rejected.