New home rule in fire-risk areas

The City’s Planning and Engineering Services Committee voted in favour of initiating an amendment to the Town Planning Scheme No. 2, with the final vote to take place at next Tuesday’s council meeting. Under the proposal, the City of Rockingham will identify and designate as bushfire-prone areas within the city: land that is within 100m of one hectare or more of bushland and is designated as being subject to, or likely to be subject to, bushfires.

The mandatory provisions for the construction of new homes will come under the Building Code of Australia and the Australian Standards AS3959 and a bushfire assessment will be required.

City of Rockingham chief executive Andrew Hammond told councillors that the adaptation of the town planning scheme was ‘probably as significant an amendment as you will ever initiate’.

‘In terms of impact to residents and financial cross development, it is incumbent upon us to promote this well and above regular statutory requirements as it will have a significant impact on thousands throughout the city,’ he said.

Under the current town planning scheme, the city doesn’t have any declared bushfire-prone areas and this lack of declaration severely restricts its ability to enforce residents to comply with various Australian standards.

Once adopted, the city will then be able to enforce compliance with those standards, Mr Hammond said.

Existing homes in areas designated as bushfire prone will only need to comply with standards if renovations or extensions are undertaken.

The amendment was one of the key points taken from the Keelty Report following the fires that swept through the Perth hills in 2011.