New planning rules for development in Western Australia’s bushfire prone areas could impact affordable housing and slow the state’s property industry, the Property Council of Australia says.
Construction standards to be enforced across the state from 1 May will require owners of bushfire prone land to have the fire hazard level assessed to determine building design requirements.
These could include ember screens on evaporative airconditioning units, window screens and the use of non-combustible or reduced-risk building materials.
Property Council WA executive director Joe Lenzo said his organisation supported a centralised system for mitigating bushfire risk but was concerned the new rules could create “another level of delay” for planning applications.
“This new system will require certified fire management consultants to tick off on fire management plans,” Mr Lenzo said.
“There doesn’t seem to be enough of these people to ensure the speedy system that’s required.
“We’re not opposing the actual move to a fire management plan, but we want guarantees that there’s a system in place to make it streamlined.”
Mr Lenzo said WA’s residential development industry needed to grow to make up for the state’s declining mining industry.
“It’s the property industry that’s picking up some of that economic slack and therefore it’s important we don’t have too many red tape road blocks in place,” he said.
Mr Lenzo said a slow planning and development process would increase the overall cost of new homes.
It is unclear how much land will be subject to the new requirements because a map labelling bushfire prone areas is yet to be released.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said the map would be publicly available some time in May.
Mr Lenzo expects bushfire prone areas to be mostly in and around metropolitan Perth, particularly the eastern suburbs and areas near national parks.