Council has been working with and supporting highly impacted residents for several months following the June 2021 storm which destroyed several homes in the Yarra Ranges.
A June 2021 storm impacted rebuilding resident, whose property is covered by an Erosion Management Overlay, has been advised that a planning permit from Council is unlikely to be approved. This is due to an erosion management assessment reporting the property is at a ‘moderate’ risk of landslip.
If the result of an erosion management assessment reports a ‘moderate’ landslip risk or higher, that cannot be mitigated on their site, the planning permit cannot be approved by Council as it does not comply with the current Victorian Planning Scheme.
Council understands the difficulty of this situation and the distress this is causing impacted residents. We are providing counselling support as well as dedicated planning advice and will continue to work closely with residents impacted from the June 2021 storm.
Council has a responsibility to implement the Victorian Planning Scheme which applies controls over land and property. All land has some form of planning control and in this instance, there are also two overlays – Erosion Management and Bushfire Management – which must be addressed when applying for planning permission.
Council must be confident that any approved properties or uses provides an appropriate level of safety for current and future residents.
The steep slopes that some properties are on in the Dandenongs means that there is a risk of landslip – which is why an Erosion Management Overlay covers part of this location – and many others in Victoria. Any planning application on properties where an Erosion Management Overlay applies, must have a geotechnical assessment undertaken.
This, coupled with the extensive loss of the trees in the storm which helped bind the soil, has exposed the soil structure, further increasing the risk of landslip, that cannot easily be fixed.
Whilst an application can be appealed at VCAT to have Council’s decision reviewed, and the tribunal may overturn Council’s decision, Council has a responsibility to its current and future residents, to ensure any permission to rebuild on properties is to be built in safe locations which do not pose a risk to life or property from landslip and bushfire.
Council is aware of a small number of properties that are storm effected and may be facing a moderate risk of landslip but this is not clarified until individual site undertake their geotechnical studies to submit with a planning permit. Council will be contacting these people individually.