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Separating fact from fiction: Can I lodge a planning permit application if there is bushfire debris on the subject site?

May 05, 2020

It has been brought to HIA’s attention that there is some confusion surrounding sites impacted by the bushfires and the requirement to clear up debris prior to being able to lodge a planning permit application.

In January of this year, the Victorian Government provided significant funds to the Victorian Bushfire clean-up program. The clean-up program is being undertaken by an independent contractor appointed by the Victorian Government. The clean-up program involves approximately 700 bushfire affected proprieties within the Gippsland region in Victoria. Recent announcements in the media have indicated that some bushfire victims are under the impression that bushfire effected sites must be appropriately cleared, and a relevant certificate stating that the site is no longer contaminated be provided by an independent contractor, prior to being able to lodge an application for a planning permit. However this is not the case.

A planning permit application can still be lodged prior to the necessary work being undertaken and a certificate of proof issued by the independent contractor. It is considered reasonable that for context and as part of council’s assessment of a planning permit application, information may be requested as to the site current condition, however this should not impede council’s assessment and determination of the application. Council may impose a condition on a planning permit, requiring that the site must be cleared to the satisfaction of council, prior to commencement of works on the subject site.

It is understood that the remediation process and removal of debris on sites impacted by bushfires is complex. However, this initial remediation process should not prohibit applicants from lodging planning permit applications to commence their rebuild process. HIA strongly encourages applicants within bushfire areas to lodge their applications, so that the rebuild process is able to commence as soon as possible.

If you require further information or assistance in applying for planning permit to rebuild, please contact Teresa Davis via email or on 03 9280 8230.