Updates to Victoria's Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO)

Victoria's Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) mapping has been updated and new schedules introduced on 3rd October 2017. These changes were made following extensive consultation with local councils and the Country Fire Authority (CFA), and follow the mapping criteria set out in Planning Advisory Note 46: Bushfire Management Overlay Mapping Methodology and Criteria.

Key Changes

Mapping: Approximately 108,000 properties were included in the BMO and a further 17,000 were removed as a result of the updated mapping. The total number of properties now in the BMO is approximately 230,000, with around 103,000 of these being on public land.

Schedules: BMO schedules were introduced to approximately 70,000 properties across Victoria.

When does a BMO apply to a property?

Free property reports available from the Victorian Government that show all zones and overlays applicable to a property. This report will specify whether the BMO or a schedule apply.


If the BMO applies to a property, is a planning permit required?

If the BMO applies to a property, a planning permit may be required to build a new house, subdivide land or substantially extend an existing house.

Other types of buildings may also need to address the BMO requirements, including hotels, office and retail premises, industry, education centres, hospitals, leisure/recreation facilities, function centres and places of worship.

Exemptions from applying for a planning permit under the BMO:

  • Extensions to existing homes less than 50% of the existing floor area
  • Extensions to other existing buildings less than 10% of the existing floor area
  • Construction of certain outbuildings, such as sheds or garages, if less than 100m2

The local council can confirm if and how the BMO applies to a property. Alternatively, Ecology and Heritage Partners are able to provide advice regarding the BMO implications for a property.

If you have to comply with the BMO as part of your planning permit, the development needs to provide protection measures that address building construction standards, vegetation management, access requirements and static water needs.

What if a schedule to the BMO applies to a property?

A schedule to the BMO stipulates predetermined bushfire protection measures for new homes in a specific location. These schedules have been developed by DELWP, local councils and the CFA to ensure the predetermined protection measures address the level of bushfire risk in that area. This therefore allows quicker processing of the BMO component of a planning application when submitted to council.

If the predetermined schedule criteria are not met, they will have to undertake the regular BMO process.

Current permit applications and transitional arrangements

In most cases, existing planning permits obtained before the 3rd October 2017 won’t be affected if the BMO was applied after the permit was issued. There are, however, a number of cases where a permit may be affected if the BMO has been applied to the subject land as part of the 3rd October mapping update. These include:

  • If a planning permit has been lodged and is still being processed by council: The council may ask the applicant for further information if bushfire hazard wasn’t already addressed as part of the application.
  • If a building permit has been lodged and is still being processed by council: A planning permit may be required that addresses bushfire hazard before a building permit can be issued.
  • If a planning permit has previously been issued and the applicant wants to amend or extend the expiry date of the permit: Depending on the scale of change, the council may ask the applicant for further information if bushfire hazard wasn’t already addressed as part of the application.
  • If the applicant has a building permit to build a house, and they didn’t need a planning permit, do they need a planning permit now? A planning permit is not required for a house or dependent persons unit with a current building permit now included in the BMO, provided vegetation is managed in accordance with the Bushfire Attack Level Assessment undertaken for the building permit, and a static water supply is available.

If a property is not in the BMO, can it be in the Bushfire Prone Area (BPA)?

All land in Victoria considered at risk from bush (and grass) fires is in a designated BPA, with the BMO being applied to BPAs that have the potential to be affected by extreme bushfires. Only highly urbanised/built-up areas are excluded from any bushfire protection measures.

Development in BPAs is required to comply with the relevant bushfire construction standards within the building permit process. Vegetation management, access and static water requirements are not required for developments in the BPA. These additional measures are reserved for higher risk developments in the BMO as part of the planning permit process.

Further Information

To discuss these changes and the implications for your project, contact Ecology and Heritage Partners on 1300 839 325.

Our highly qualified and experienced team is available to answer your questions, assist with preparing reports for council submission under the BMO or BPA. We will also conduct biodiversity and flora and fauna assessments, and broker native vegetation offsets that may be required as part of a planning application.


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