By Amy Kelly

31 March 2011 – Brisbane City Council on Tuesday night passed a motion allowing residents affected by the January 2011 floods to rebuild their homes beyond the height restrictions of current planning controls.

The proposed temporary local planning instrument will override the current restrictions of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 by allowing homes in Brisbane River flood-affected areas to be raised to an Interim Residential Flood Level (the level at which the January floods reached) plus 500 millimetres and includes provisions relating to the waterproofing of essential services and basements in commercial buildings.

Under the changes residents will be allowed to raise their homes to a maximum height of 9.5 metres , up from the existing 8.5 metres maximum height, with the higher of either the January 2011 flood event level or the pre-existing defined flood level plus 500 mm as the new basis for residential planning decisions. Industrial and other properties are not covered by the TLPI.

Speaking in support of the motion, development assessment committee chair Amanda Cooper said adopting the IRFL would allow residents building or rebuilding homes, units and townhouses to gain improved flood immunity.

“Council’s next step in helping Brisbane back to its feet was to look at our flooding standards and make changes in the interim to land affected by Brisbane River and creek flooding,” she said.

“The safety and protection of residents and their homes during and after a flood remains Council’s highest priority and these new standards will help bring certainty to residents moving forward.”

The adoption of the TLPI will see the habitable floor levels of residential buildings in flood-affected areas raised and additional requirements introduced for filling and excavation.

The changes will see residential buildings rise from between 300 millimetres at New Farm Park to in excess of two metres at Tennyson.

The TLPI includes new provisions fornew and existing residential buildings as well as essential building services and building basements in commercial buildings.

Developers will need to ensure essential services are waterproofed or built above flood levels.
“During the January flood we saw basements across the city flooded which resulted in people losing access to phone and power services,” Ms Cooper said.

“Many of these people were then left without power for weeks after the flood meaning they couldn’t return home.

“This practical council move will not only enable resident to remain in their buildings for longer, but it will also allow them to return home sooner following a flood event.”

The TLPI is effective for a period of one year or until the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the floods is completed.

Ms Cooper said the 18 month timeframe usually necessary to make changes to the Sustainable Planning Act would increase the risk of social and economic hardship to residents of flood-affected communities and called on the Minister for Local Government to endorse the TLPI to provide certainty and confidence for residential development in flood-affected areas.

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