State Planning Policy 3.7 - Planning in bushfire prone areas

Policy and regional information for planning in bushfire prone areas.
Last updated:
Please note

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage has consulted on proposed changes to the  Bushfire Policy Framework. For more information, visit Bushfire Framework Review 2019

State Planning Policy 3.7 Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (SPP 3.7) directs how land use should address bushfire risk management in Western Australia. It applies to all land designated as bushfire prone by the Fire and Emergency Services (FES) Commissioner as highlighted on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas.

SPP 3.7 seeks to guide the implementation of effective risk-based land use planning and development to preserve life and reduce the impact of bushfire on property and infrastructure. It applies to all higher order strategic planning documents, strategic planning proposals, subdivision and development applications located in designated bushfire prone areas (unless exemptions apply). This policy also applies where an area is not yet designated as bushfire prone, but the proposed development is planned in a way that introduces a bushfire hazard (e.g. revegetation).

The accompanying Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (the Guidelines) provide supporting information to help in the interpretation of the objectives and policy measures outlined in SPP 3.7. They advise on how bushfire risk is to be addressed when planning, designing or assessing a planning proposal within a designated bushfire prone area.

Bushfire risk management provisions apply to all local planning schemes through the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 (the Regulations). The Regulations complement SPP 3.7 and the accompanying Guidelines and together form the Bushfire Policy Framework. 
 

Frequently asked questions

Planning in bushfire prone areas

What is the Bushfire Policy Framework?

Bushfire poses a serious threat to people, property, infrastructure and the environment in Western Australia; reducing our vulnerability to bushfire is a whole-of-community responsibility. 

The Framework aims to manage and reduce the risk of bushfire across the State. It requires planning and/or building processes for new planning proposals, subdivision applications, and the development of new and other habitable buildings in bushfire prone areas, as shown on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas

The framework applies only to new buildings and development.

Does the Bushfire Policy Framework affect me?

You may have additional bushfire planning and building requirements if you are proposing to build or develop in an area designated as bushfire prone on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas
For example:

  • If you are proposing to build a house on a property designated as bushfire prone in the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas for more than four months you will need to undertake a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment before you can commence development; 
  • If you are proposing to build a house in an area of extreme bushfire risk (i.e BAL-40 or BAL- Flame Zone) and your property has been designated as bushfire prone for more than four months, you will need development approval unless you are building a single house or ancillary dwelling on a lot or lots less than 1,100m², (in which case you will not need a BAL assessment for planning purposes but may require a BAL assessment for a building permit); or 
  • If you want to subdivide, you will need to provide a BAL Contour Map that illustrates indicative BAL ratings across the entire site with your subdivision application (no transition period applies).

What types of buildings are affected by the Bushfire Planning Framework?

Additional planning and/or building requirements may apply if you are proposing to build a residential building, habitable building or another building as specified by a local government in a designated bushfire prone area. 

For example: 

You can find more information about the Bushfire Planning framework, by reading the Planning for Bushfire Prone Areas fact sheets. 

You can also find information on building in bushfire prone areas on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website.

Will the Bushfire Planning Framework affect the natural environment?

Broad-scale clearing of vegetation is not supported as a means of addressing bushfire risk. However, if you propose to build or develop in a bushfire prone area, you may be required to undertake some vegetation clearing (i.e. fuel loads, fire breaks) on your property to ensure bushfire risk is being appropriately managed. In this situation, the normal application and approval processes for clearing native vegetation will apply.

Bushfire prone areas

What is the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas?

The Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas  identifies parts of the State that are bushfire prone (i.e. areas at threat of bushfire because of their proximity to bushfire prone vegetation). 

The Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas has been prepared by the Office of Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM) in accordance with the Mapping Standard for Bush Fire Prone Areas. It will be updated annually to reflect changes to vegetation (i.e. vegetation cleared or introduced).  

For more information about the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas contact OBRM

How do I know if I am in a bushfire prone area?

You can find out if you are in a designated bushfire prone area by looking up your address on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas, which is found on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) website. You are in a designated bushfire prone area if any part of your property is shaded ‘pink’.

If you are proposing to build or develop and your property has been in a designated bushfire prone area for four months or more, you will have additional bushfire planning and/or building requirements Your property’s date of designation can be found on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas.

For more information on bushfire planning and building requirements, refer to the Planning for Bushfire Prone Areas fact sheets. 

What if I am in a bushfire prone area, but I don't think I should be?

Please refer to the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas

OBRM works closely with all local governments to prepare and review the map. 

You should contact your local government if you are concerned your property has been incorrectly included in the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas. If it has been incorrectly identified, your local government can work with OBRM to remove your property as part of the annual review process. 

More information is available on the DFES website,  Mapping Standard for Bush Fire Prone Areas or by contacting OBRM

What if I am in a bushfire prone area, but my property and the surrounding area is clear of vegetation?

If you are proposing to build or develop on a property in a designated bushfire prone area, but there is no vegetation in and around the proposed building site, you may be able to undertake a BAL assessment (basic) in place of a BAL assessment. 

A BAL assessment (basic) is a simplified process to determine the BAL for a proposed building not within 100m of bushfire prone vegetation. You can use a BAL assessment (basic) if: 

  • your property and/or surrounding area has been cleared since the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas was published so that it no longer contains bushfire prone vegetation, and is not within 100m of bushfire prone vegetation; or 
  • your property is large enough to locate the proposed building so that it is not within 100m of bushfire prone vegetation.  

More information is in the BAL assessment (basic) fact sheet.

Planning in bushfire prone areas

What is a BAL assessment?

A BAL assessment is used for planning and building purposes to determine whether a building or development requires additional bushfire risk management measures to address the threat of bushfire to the development.

There are six BAL categories, as set out in Australian Standard 3959: Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas (AS 3959).  

If you are proposing to build or develop in a bushfire prone area as designated on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas, you may be required to undertake a BAL assessment before you can commence development. 

A BAL assessment is generally carried out by an accredited Level 1 BAL Assessor or Bushfire Planning Practitioner. A list of accredited Level 1 BAL Assessors can be found at the Fire Protection Association Australia’s website

If you are in a remote area (i.e. your property is located more than 50km from a gazetted townsite) you may be able to carry out the BAL assessment yourself. For more information refer to the fact sheet Building a house in a remote area. 

What is a BAL Contour Map?

A BAL Contour Map is a scale map of a development site, including the proposed lot layout, which shows indicative BAL ratings across the site and within the immediate surrounding area. 

It is used to identify land suitable for development and areas of unavoidable risk, and ensures appropriate risk management is incorporated into the subdivision design and lot layout. It is also used for planning and building purposes to determine whether a building or development requires additional measures to manage the threat of bushfire, and can be prepared by an accredited Level 2 or Level 3 Bushfire Planning Practitioner. 

If you are proposing to build or develop in a designated bushfire prone area, you may be able to use a BAL Contour Map in place of a BAL assessment. Where a BAL Contour Map and accompanying compliance certificate/report exist for your property, you can obtain a copy from the developer of the subdivision or a previous owner. 

More information on a BAL Contour Map can be found in State Planning Policy 3.7 and the Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas

What is a Bushfire Hazard Level (BHL) assessment?

This is a high-level assessment that determines the potential intensity of a bushfire for a particular area and categorises land as having a low, moderate or extreme bushfire hazard level.

It is used for strategic planning and subdivision purposes to identify land suitable for future development and potential land uses and can form part of a bushfire management plan (BMP). A BHL assessment can be undertaken by an accredited Level 2 or Level 3 Bushfire Planning Practitioner. For guidance on suitably qualified consultants, visit the Fire Protection Association (FPA).

More information on a BAL Contour Map can be found in State Planning Policy 3.7 and the Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas

What is a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP)and who can prepare one?

A BMP, which is also known as a fire management plan (FMP), identifies the extent of the bushfire hazard to the development. A BMP sets out short, medium and long-term bushfire risk management strategies for a particular area. 

It is used to support planning proposals and development applications in bushfire prone areas, and considers such things as fire breaks, firefighting water supply, firefighting access, easements and ongoing risk management responsibilities. 

A BMP can be prepared by an accredited Level 2 or Level 3 Bushfire Planning Practitioner. For guidance on suitably qualified consultants, visit the FPA.

More information on a BAL Contour Map can be found in State Planning Policy 3.7 and the Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas

Building in bushfire prone areas

Will it cost more to build my new house?

If you are proposing to build or develop in a designated bushfire prone area there may be costs associated with additional bushfire planning and building requirements. 

Visit the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety's website for more information on building in bushfire prone areas.

Can I include additional bushfire protection measures into my new house?

Yes. 

For more information on other bushfire protection measures for your home, visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website or email environment@dfes.wa.gov.au
 

Useful contacts

Planning Policy Framework and LPS Amendment Regulations

Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage
Bushfire Policy Team
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth, Western Australia
Ph: (08) 6551 9000
Email: bushfire@dplh.wa.gov.au

Site specific planning and development enquiries

Please contact your local government.
Local government directory

Accreditation and Training Framework for bushfire consultants

Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage
Bushfire Policy Team
Gordon Stephenson House
140 William Street
Perth, Western Australia
Ph: (08) 6551 9000
Email: bushfire@dplh.wa.gov.au

Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas

Office of Bushfire Risk Management
Ph: (08) 6551 4060
Email: OBRM@dfes.wa.gov.au
Website

Building Regulations and application of AS 3959 building construction standards

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (Building and Energy Division)
Level 1 - Mason Bird Building
303 Sevenoaks Street
Cannington, Western Australia 6107
Ph: 1300 48 90 99
Email: BCinfo@dmirs.wa.gov.au
Website

Or please contact your local government.

Regulations

The Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 were superseded in December 2020 by the Planning Regulation Amendment Regulations 2020, which introduced various improvements to local planning processes. Read more on the information on the amendments

Read more information on how the Local Planning Schemes Regulations and Amendments affect planning for bushfire prone areas on the Bushfire planning and the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 page.

How to stay updated

Bushfire planning publications will be amended as required. Subscribers will be sent emails when updates are made. To receive updates please complete the below subscription form 

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Maps of gazetted town sites and surrounding 50 km boundary

Allowances have been made for new single houses or ancillary dwellings (e.g. granny flats) proposed in a remote location. In remote areas where a proposed new single house or ancillary dwelling will be located outside a 50km radius of a gazetted townsite, a property owner may be able to complete their own BAL assessment (see Fact sheet: Building a house in a remote area). If your proposed development is located in the Perth, Peel, Great Southern or South West regions, this ‘special provision’ will not apply.

If your new single house or ancillary dwelling will be located in one of the regions listed below, please use the following maps to find your development location using the zoom-in function. If your proposed development is located outside a gazetted townsite 50 km boundary, you have the opportunity to prepare your own BAL assessment.

Note: Metropolitan Peel, South West and Great Southern regions have no areas falling outside a 50 km radius of a gazetted townsite.

Local governments which are not completely covered by a local planning scheme

The new bushfire regulatory planning requirements only apply to development applications in areas which are covered by a local planning scheme. If your development application is located outside of a local planning scheme then there are no additional bushfire regulatory planning requirements. 

You should contact your local government to enquire if your development application is covered by a local planning scheme.