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Flexibility for fire-affected land owners

Friday 7 February 2020

New planning provisions announced by the NSW Government on Wednesday allow people affected by bushfire to establish temporary accommodation like caravans on their property without the need for council approval.

Shipping containers will also be permitted to store belongings while rebuilding takes place, while extended stays in a caravan park or camping ground are now allowed for up to two years under the expanded exemptions.

The changes are effective immediately, and according to Eurobodalla Council’s director of planning and sustainability Lindsay Usher, represent a swift and helpful response to bushfire impacted communities by the NSW Government.

“We’ve been working with the Department of Planning for several weeks to make this happen. Councils asked, the Department delivered, and we thank them,” he said.

“We’ll keep working with other councils and the Department to identify other changes to planning rules needed to help our community rebuild. Things like facilitating safer homes when rebuilding, such as switching off biodiversity legislation to allow agreed amounts of clearing for asset protection zones.”

The new measures also allow demolition of bushfire affected buildings without approval, along with temporary repairs and non-structural permanent repairs.

Mr Usher says residents should register for the NSW government’s free clean up. “Whether you’re insured or not, the government will cover the costs of clearing your property. If you start demolition prior to registering with Service NSW, you might forfeit that funding,” he said.

“We’d also like to remind people to wait for Public Works Advisory authority before starting demolition to make sure asbestos is managed safely.

“And finally, that demolition waste can’t be accepted at Council’s tips. More than 2,000 homes and buildings have been destroyed or damaged in Eurobodalla. That’s hundreds of thousands of tonnes of demolition waste and well beyond the capacity of our three waste management facilities, and that of most bushfire affected councils. Together we’re working with the NSW Government to find a solution to dispose of this waste, and we hope to have news on this very soon.”

Development standards will still be in place to ensure the new exemptions remain low impact, and residents are encouraged to contact Council's development helpdesk on 4474 1231 or development@esc.nsw.gov.au to make sure they are complying, or to seek advice about clean up or rebuilding.