Q&As for Erosion Management Overlays

You may have seen in the media a story about a resident who has been impacted by an Erosion Management and the impact on their rebuild. Here are some details about this issue and some general information on Erosion Management Overlays.

Has Council told a resident that they cannot rebuild their home after the June 2021 storm?

Council has been working closely with residents impacted by the June 2021 storm, particularly those who need to rebuild.

The piece of land that the resident’s home is on is covered by a planning control called an Erosion Management Overlay and is an area of pre-existing landslips. This means that a Geotechnical Assessment needs to be undertaken prior to submitting a planning application.

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 Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme.

A geotechnical assessment was undertaken at the property and reported a ‘moderate’ landslip risk. This was peer reviewed by a second geotechnical engineer and agreed with.

Council has not received a planning application from the residents and therefore no formal decision has been made, however it is highly unlikely that an application with a moderate geotechnical risk assessment would be approved.

The resident was advised to further explore options with their geotechnical professional to determine what risk mitigation could be included in the rebuild to reduce the uncertainties and hence the risk.

 

 

Why didn’t you tell the resident sooner?

Until a Geotechnical report is undertaken Council does not know what the landslip risk is. When applying for planning permission a number of reports are needed. If a property is covered by an Erosion Management Overlay, then a Geotechnical Assessment must be included.

Upon receipt of the resident’s Geotechnical report Council contracted specialists to conduct a peer review and made further investigations regarding this matter. Following this advice and discussions within Council a meeting was held with the resident. 

 

Can Council Buy-Back the property?

Unfortunately, Council is unable to buy back properties. Following Black Saturday in 2009, the State Government did offer buy back schemes, however this has not been provided since.

 

What is an Erosion Management Overlay?

The Victoria Planning Provisions contain a suite of zones and overlays created by State Government that local Councils apply to land in their municipalities. The objectives of planning in Victoria require councils to apply planning controls to those areas in order to protect life and property and enabling appropriate development where required.

An Erosion Management Overlay is applied to land that is prone to erosion, landslip or other land degradation. There are several categories of landslip ranging from low to high. The risk depends on several factors including the slope and terrain. Not all properties that have an Erosion Management Overlay are at risk of not being able to rebuild. Further information can be found on Landslip and erosion in the Yarra Ranges or you can watch the presentation given to residents who attended the Reimaging Your Rebuild sessions by Darren Paul, geotechnical engineer.

The application of the EMO to land and landslip categories are based on modelling and mapping prepared by a geotechnical expert.

When a property is at risk of landslip, a Geotechnical Assessment also needs to be completed as part of a planning permit.

The Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme only allows properties to be built on land that has a ‘low’ or ‘very low’ risk of landslip. If the Assessment reports that the risk to the property is above ‘low’ or ‘very low’ then Council is unlikely to support a planning application.  

 

What was the advice from the geotechnical engineers?

The advice from two separate Geotechnical engineers was that the risk to this piece of land was ‘moderate’ and therefore does not comply with the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme.

 

How do I know if I have an Erosion Management Overlay on my property?

The Dandenongs is a beautiful place to live however it does come with some risks. Landslip and bushfire are known to be issues in this location.

To find out if you have any Overlays on your property, including an Erosion Management Overlay, you can enter your address into VicPlan or contact Council's planners on 1300 368 333 during business hours.

If you would like further information you can also undertake a Geotechnical Assessment on your own property.

 

What does this mean for other residents in Yarra Ranges?

Over time, planning controls change and this can have an impact on properties if they are damaged/destroyed by a disaster, or if people want to rebuild for other reasons. Legally councils must inform residents about any changes to planning controls that apply to their property. Often this information gets missed by residents who may not be thinking about the ramifications of any planning control changes or overtime when properties are sold, planning control information is provided in Vendor Statement (Section 32) to future residents to investigate.

An example of this is the introduction of the Bushfire Management Overlay which came about after the 2009 fires. This overlay was subsequently applied to many properties and has an impact on a rebuild and/or the cost of a rebuild.

There are other residents in Victoria or Australia that have had planning controls applied to their property that they are unaware of which could impact their ability to rebuild after a disaster.

 

What is Council doing to support residents through these issues?

Council has been working with residents impacted by the storms for many months. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have funded planning consultants for residents on complex sites.

Since the storm, Council has been working closely with DELWP and Bushfire Recovery Victoria advocating on residents behalf for many months in relation to the rebuilding process.

Council continues to advocate to the state government for a buy-back scheme, reviewing work undertaken by other Councils in relation to landslip issues and exploring the possibility of reviewing the current EMO mapping and preparing a Planning Scheme Amendment. The Victorian Planning Scheme has more details on what a Planning Scheme Amendment is and what it involves.