As we plan further into the future and Australia’s population grows, it increasingly falls upon independent developers to identify and project the best new areas for development. The vibrant heritage and community feel of rural Australia present attractive opportunities for land and property development.
However, there can be substantial challenges for developers who wish to build in the nation’s rural zones with different housing requirements to suit the arid environment, and although minor alterations to buildings can be done without notice, more involved property development will likely require approval. Development in rural Australia falls into one of three categories: exempt, complying and requiring a development application (DA).
Exempt development types that include internal alterations and minor additions do not require any approval at all, but if a proposed home design is not exempt but still meets local development codes, a professional evaluator can determine whether the property development is appropriate for a rural area and issue a community development certification, or CDC can assess the property.
Some projects will require a development application in order to begin construction, and while these can typically be obtained with a well-constructed proposal, there are three common roadblocks to speedy approvals when building in rural areas of the Hunter Valley and around Australia:
1. Bush fire zones
Fast-spreading bush fires are common in some areas of Australia, presenting a constant danger to development in these zones. For this reason, property development proposals in these areas are stringently examined for their exposure to this risk. Buildings planned in these areas must have special construction, access, water supply, landscaping and other measures to help counteract the elevated risk of fire outbreaks. A development planning firm can assist developers in satisfying the safety requirements of building in bush fire zones.
2. Flood zones
The topography of rural Australia also makes some areas susceptible to floods and flash flooding and properties in these areas must meet a special set of criteria in the interest of residential safety. These flood prevention methods are designed to minimize the effects of what local councils refer to as “1 in 100 year” storm events, which are distinguished by their heavier than average flooding and statistical chance of striking at least once per year. These severe storms can strike at any time and so it is important that any developer seeking to build in flood-prone areas consult with a professional to determine if their plans are viable.
3. Heritage territories
The rich cultural history of Australia is manifested today in the form of its Heritage Protection Zones, areas of land designated as exempt to new development. While these lands are protected by law, it may still be possible to obtain a permit to build on property within a designated heritage zone depending on the individual project. Proposals must be geared primarily toward leaving the natural fabric of the landscape as undisturbed as possible, and so expert guidance from a professional experienced in navigating heritage land guidelines is invaluable when obtaining a permit to build in protected zones of the Hunter Valley and other areas rural Australia.