blog entries (4)
We are very proud to announce that our Bushfire Consulting Division, WA BAL is one the first bushfire practitioners in Western Australia to have been accredited BPAD level 2 – Bushfire Planning Practitioner under the state’s Bushfire Accreditation Framework issued in December 2015. Compared to BPAD level 1 BAL Assessors, who are limited to determine Bushfire Attack Levels and provide general advice on construction requirements in accordance with AS3959-2009, BPAD level 2 Bushfire Planning Practitioners are able to develop planning and building applications by applying prescribed bushfire protection criteria contained in WA’s Planning Policy 3.7 Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (SPP 3.7) and its Guidelines.
Specifically, BPAD level 2 Bushfire Planning practitioners are accredited to:
- Provide Bushfire Hazard Level Assessments;
- Develop BAL Contour Maps;
- Develop Bushfire Management Plans (BMP); and
- Provide advice for planning and building applications according to SPP 3.7 and its Guidelines.
The BPAD scheme was developed and implemented in response to demands from the community, government and industry professionals to regulate bushfire assessments, planning, and design and advice services. This scheme gives confidence to people procuring bushfire services that the practitioners have a detailed knowledge of and the ability to practically apply relevant planning, development and building legislation and policies.
If you are thinking of building in an area deemed bushfire prone area on the DFES map (https://maps.slip.wa.gov.au/landgate/bushfireprone2016/) you may need a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment to determine whether the proposed building requires additional bushfire construction requirements or risk management measures. BAL assessments include visiting the site, identifying the different types of vegetation, taking a series of photographs and measurements, and producing the report outlining the BAL rating, which ranges from BAL – low to BAL FZ. This process can take up to a week but our normal turnaround time for BAL assessments is 2 to 3 days.
Unless you are building a single house on a lot less than 1,100 m2 you will need a BAL assessment for planning. For building, a BAL assessment will be required regardless of lot size. Furthermore, if your lot is larger than 1,100 m2 and the determined BAL is either BAL – 40 or BAL – FZ, a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP) will then be required. A BMP, also known as a Fire Management Plan (FMP) is a document that identifies the extent of bushfire hazard to the development, and sets out management measures to minimise and control the potential risks.
It is important to know that BAL assessments are generally carried out by BPAD Level 1 accredited practitioners whereas BFP, which require a higher level of assessment, are done by BPAD Level 2 accredited practitioners. WABAL has BPAD Level 1 and 2 assessors and can therefore help you out in any case scenario.
One thing to take into consideration when getting a BAL assessment done is that the BAL rating depends, amongst other things, on the distance between the classified vegetation and the proposed building. Therefore, it is important to have a site plan that shows the location of the proposed building on site to ensure an accurate BAL rating. If the position of the building is not known at the time of the assessment, a BAL rating can be given to the property (instead of the building) by measuring the distances from the lot boundaries. As you cannot normally clear the vegetation of your neighbour’s property, this method may yield a higher BAL rating when classified vegetation is right next up to the lot boundary. However, the BAL assessment can be reviewed and amended accordingly once the site plan is made available.
Contributed by QWest Paterson Valuers & Property Consultants
A lot of attention in the media surrounded the bushfire risk management reforms that the State government gazetted on 7 December 2015.
QWest Paterson Director Rowan Hemsley advises that the new State Planning Policy 3.7: Planning for Bushfire Risk Management (SPP 3.7)and associated regulations and bushfire prone areas map are likely to have a cost impact on many new home buyers, builders and developers across WA.
The reforms were spurred on in particular by the Perth Hills bushfire that destroyed 71 homes in the Roleystone-Kelmscott area in February 2011. As a result of the devastation that the bushfire caused, the state government initiated an independent review that was undertaken by Mr Mick Keelty AO to investigate bushfire risk management in WA.
One of the major areas of consideration in the Keelty report was ensuring that homes in bush fire risk areas are appropriately prepared.
Under the new SPP 3.7, the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner has published a bushfire prone areas map (BPAM) covering the whole state which will be updated annually. Any homes located within a designated bushfire prone area or located within 100m of bushfire prone vegetation larger than 1 hectare, will be required to assess their Bushfire Attack Level (BAL).
Dependent on the resulting BAL, the developer and/ or home builder will be required to seek development approval and ensure construction adheres to the relevant Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements.
Mr Hemsley advises that while the BCA requirements have been in place across Australia for many years, they have not been commonly applied in WA due to lack of broad mapping of bushfire prone areas by local government. Now that the state government is providing an overarching BPAM, areas at risk will have to comply with the standards.
Mr Hemsley says that in terms of new developments, developers will be required to consider fire management in the early stages of the development approvals process. This will require the advice of a fire management consultant and the publication of a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP).
Developers may be refused approval for a project if they are unable to meet the bushfire protection criteria or, if the proposed land for development is located in a ‘flame zone’ where only necessary or required development may occur. There may also be a requirement to place a ‘notice on title’ for whoever purchases a lot in that area to advise them that the site is located in a bushfire prone area.
At a home owner level, the Master Builders Association has argued that the cost of requirements under the reforms could add more than $20,000 to the price of building an average home.
Dependent on your designated BAL, some of the basic construction requirements that may need to be met include ember protection screens on all windows, weather strips on external doors, any timber frames to be fire retardant treated, and consideration of roofing materials.
Mr Hemsley reminds potential new home builders that while the new SPP is now in effect, there is a transition period in place until 8 April 2016 that will apply in many cases. For example if you are proposing to develop a new home in a designated bushfire prone area, the new building requirements will not apply until 8 April 2016.
Overall, the impact that the new requirements may have on demand for property in bush fire prone areas, particularly the added costs associated with building along with the increased spotlight on areas that are considered at high risk, will likely be seen once the requirements are fully in effect in mid-2016.
Mr Hemsley recommends seeking further information on the State Planning Policy 3.7 and associated documentation by visiting the Department of Planning website: http://planning.wa.gov.au/7958.asp
Alex Hemsley, WABCA's in-house planner was lucky enough to fly over the city of Perth last weekend and had the chance to take some aerial photos of our beautiful city.