Bushfire Management Overlay

The Victorian Government is acting to make new homes, our communities and the environment safer from bushfires. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has reviewed and updated bushfire hazard mapping in the planning scheme. This mapping updates the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) and has been done in partnership with the Country Fire Authority and Baw Baw Shire Council.

The update was a key recommendation of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, and ensures consistent bushfire mapping and planning policies apply across the state. These mapping changes apply criteria developed by the Victorian Government, the CFA and CSIRO.

As part of this state-wide review, bushfire planning controls have been applied to some properties (affected properties will be notified by mail). While existing homes and approved developments are not required to make changes, in future, you may require a planning permit to subdivide your land, build a new house or significantly extend an existing house under the BMO planning control.

This planning permit will ensure that bushfire hazards such as vegetation, slope and site access are assessed, and that safety measures are in place to manage bushfire risk. This is in addition to the requirements of other planning controls that may already apply to your property.

For properties in an area with the potential to be affected by extreme bushfires, it is strongly recommended that owners have a bushfire survival plan in place, obtain advice on appropriate building insurance, and prepare their home and property to manage bushfire risk.

For more information on the update, to understand how the planning controls apply to other parts of our community, and to understand how to best protect your property for bushfire, please visit the Victorian Government's Planning for Bushfire Protection website or contact Council on 5624 2411 for an information pack.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I check if I’m in the BMO?

The State Government’s VicPlan mapping tool can be used to check the zone and overlays applying to a property, including the BMO.

Why didn’t I receive notice before the BMO was applied to my property?

The changes to the BMO are about making new homes, our communities and the environment safer and more resilient to bushfire. The changes respond to the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission - recommendation 37.

The mapping update is based on the identification of extreme bushfire hazards by DELWP, fire authorities and council.

No public consultation was undertaken prior to the maps being introduced to avoid any potential for uncertainty and confusion about the mapping criteria and the technical nature of bushfire risk.

Where can I get more information about the BMO and why it’s been applied to my property?

DELWP has created a webpage specifically for the introduction of the updated BMO mapping. 

The page has detailed information for landowners, including fact sheets, information on mapping criteria, and planning permit requirements.

If there are specific questions that the webpage doesn’t answer, please contact one of our planning officers.

Can I appeal if I don’t think my property should be included in the BMO?

DELWP has a process in place to review the mapping on a regular basis in partnership with fire authorities and council.

If you think your land may not meet the mapping criteria you should contact our planning department for advice. If council planning officers agree that your land may not meet the criteria, DELWP may undertake a review. 

Land that meets the criteria will not be removed.

Do I have to retrofit my existing home?

While the BMO does not apply retrospectively to existing homes or approved developments, including subdivision, it is recommended that all property owners and occupiers take steps to improve the resilience of their property to bushfire.

The CFA website has information on making homes and properties safer. You can prepare a Fire Ready Kit. 

What does it mean if my property has been included in the BMO? Do I need a planning permit to build now?

If the BMO applies, a planning permit may be needed to subdivide your land, build a new house or extend an existing house by more than 50% of the existing floor area.

Other types of buildings and new uses may also need a planning permit. 

Please speak to council officers to discuss planning permit requirements and processes.

What will the planning permit require me to do?

If a planning permit is required under the BMO, in addition to any other planning controls, you will need to meet specific bushfire application requirements. This may include completing bushfire site hazard and bushfire landscape assessments.

A planning permit may be granted by council once you have demonstrated that your proposed development meets the relevant application requirements and implements appropriate protection measures to manage bushfire risk.

The Victorian Government's Planning for Bushfire Protection webpage details the process for preparing a planning permit application.

What bushfire protection measures will be required in the BMO?

Although bushfire risk varies across our region, the bushfire protection measures in the BMO require future developments and uses to:

  • Build to current bushfire construction standards
  • Site the building away from the bushfire hazar
  • Manage vegetation and fuel loads
  • Install water tanks and provide fire truck access
  • Refer your plan to the CFA, if required

A mandatory planning permit condition will require these measures to be implemented and maintained at all times by the landowner.

Vulnerable uses and developments such as schools and childcare facilities, and proposals in areas with significant landscape risk, may require additional bushfire protection measures. In these cases, broader landscape issues such as evacuation and availability of safer places must be considered as part of the planning permit process.

Are there any planning permit exemptions?

There are some exemptions from applying for a planning permit under the BMO, including:

  • Extensions to existing homes less than 50% of the existing floor area, and
  • Construction of certain outbuildings, such as a shed or garage, if less than 100 square metres.

Other exemptions may apply for some uses and development. You can check with local council officers to see if exemptions apply.

What if I already have a planning or building permit?

Approved planning permits will continue to operate until expiry.

If there is an approved building permit but no planning permit, or you are proposing to extend or amend an existing planning permit, you should check with our planning department.

What does it mean if only part of my land is included in the updated mapping?

The mapping is based on bushfire hazards, not property boundaries. 

It is common for properties to only be partially included in the BMO.

The BMO planning requirements are only triggered if new development is proposed on the part of a property that is in the BMO.

Will this cost me more?

Bushfire construction standards already apply to Bushfire Prone Areas under the Building Act and regulations. The bushfire protection measures required under the planning system are unlikely to substantially increase development costs.

There may be some costs associated with preparing bushfire hazard assessments and site plans. Standard planning permit application fees will also apply.

BMO schedules have been prepared for some townships and settlements by DELWP, the CFA and local councils. These remove certain application requirements, such as a bushfire hazard assessment. This may further reduce application costs for permit applicants.

The State Government’s VicPlan mapping tool can be used to check if a BMO schedule applies to your a property.

What is a BMO schedule and what does it do?

 A schedule to the BMO specifies bushfire protection measures for new homes based on local bushfire risk. Schedules have been developed by DELWP, the CFA and local councils. They include predetermined protection measures, streamlined rules, and reduced application requirements for new homes.

Landowners can use the bushfire protection measures predetermined in a schedule or choose to use the regular BMO process.

What if I am in an urban, suburban, township area or rural living area?

The BMO includes streamlined application requirements for new homes in urban, suburban, township and rural living areas based on the zoning of land. These streamlined rules apply across Victoria, and make it simpler to identify the bushfire protection measures that need to be provided for a new home.