University of Technology Sydney

15601 Planning for Bushfire Prone Areas

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Institute for Public Policy and Governance
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks


This subject is designed to provide planning and development professionals, particularly those working in the local government arena, with the necessary skills and understanding to apply the relevant requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Rural Fires Act 1997 and AS 3333959 (Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas). Severe bushfires over recent years have again highlighted the importance of ensuring that development in bushfire prone areas is carefully planned and controlled to maximise safety. This has been given a high priority by the NSW Government through amendments to legislation and publication of a new guideline, Planning for Bushfire Protection. It is essential that professionals involved in this area have a thorough grasp of both the legislation and planning and design principles involved, as well as an understanding of related aspects of bushfire behaviour and management. This is required not only to produce quality outcomes but also to help protect local councils against claims of negligence in exercising their development control functions.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Clearly understand bushfire behaviour and approaches to protection of property and human life from bushfire.
2. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the legislative frameworks and contexts.
3. Apply a practical understanding of the current status of planning for bushfire-prone areas in NSW and other Government areas.
4. Identify and assess the current issues in bushfire protection and regulation
5. Conduct bushfire assessments using the manual.
6. Consider issues related to biodiversity.
7. Formulate understanding of social conditions.
8. Identify key elements in case studies and best practice.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Ability to present, and invite feedback on, complex arguments and ideas (C.1)
  • Ability to question, challenge and develop new perspectives for achieving built environment objectives beyond traditional methods (I.1)
  • Understanding of how the role of urban planning, development assessment and building regulation evolved in response to social, cultural, economic and political forces (P.1)
  • Ability to locate and understand the legislation and regulation relevant to the built and natural environment (P.2)
  • Ability to conduct merits based assessment or find alternative solutions for the assessment of development applications consents. (P.3)
  • Ability to use evidence-based research to support and develop coherent and logically structured arguments that underpin decisions. (R.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

Block: Five-day day intensive workshop

This course is run in block mode comprising intensive workshops on campus run over four days in total with one day off-site. Face-to-face classes and the one-day field trip incorporate a range of teaching and learning strategies including lectures and group discussion, interactive presentations, cases studies, scenarios and facilitated workshops. The classroom sessions include delivery lectures on statutory requirements, protection measures in conjunction with analysis and problem solving pertaining to bushfire protection measures and acceptable solutions. The sessions are designed to increase knowledge building, provoke participatory discussions and encourage critical thinking.


The course has three written assessment tasks to support the learning objectives of this subject. Short course students have a choice whether to submit the three assessment tasks and receive a Certificate of Attainment or just attend the course and receive a Certificate of Attendance. Assessment 1 explores prior knowledge, research skills and information gained from recommended readings to address planning arrangements for development of land within a bush fire prone area of NSW. Assessment 2 is the preparation of a BAL certificate while Assessment 3 is a planning assessment report which tests knowledge and retention of information and resources provided during the five days. There are also a number of online recommended readings used to support the learning objectives.

Field Trip

Because of the highly practical nature of Planning for Bushfire Prone Areas, there is a full-day field trip where students undertake a vegetation assessment, a slope assessment and a BAL assessment to facilitate on-the-ground problem solving, discussion and analysis and putting the classroom learning into practice.


Feedback will be provided during the learning process along with group discussion, case studies and group work furthering engagement in inquiry and the exploration of different perspectives. Summative feedback is provided with all assessed work and is published along with indicative grades online.

Content (topics)

The subject blends theory, practice and key principles with case studies presented by expert practitioners.

Topics include:

  • Bushfire behavior.
  • A multi-faceted approach to bushfire protection.
  • Provisions of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act and Rural Fires Act.
  • 'Planning for Bushfire Protection' manual.
  • Biodiversity considerations.
  • Undertaking bushfire assessments: Application of Seniors Living SEPP.
  • Using covenants.
  • Legal issues and cases.
  • Requirements of AS 3959 (Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas).
  • Designing safe and attractive buildings in bushfire prone areas.
  • The need for effective policy implementation, and local government management frameworks.


Assessment task 1: Short Essay


Students will be expected to write a short essay demonstrating their understanding of legislation related to the planning for bushfire prone areas in NSW.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 and 3

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, P.1 and P.2

Type: Essay
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 25%

500 words

Assessment task 2: BAL Certificate Report


Students are asked to develop the Bush Fire Attack Level (BAL) report, reflecting on their knowledge of the relevant requirements of the Planning for Bushfire Protection guidelines.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

4, 5 and 6

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

P.2, P.3 and R.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 25%

Two pages with no more than 1000 words

Assessment task 3: Planning Report


Based on the insights gained during the teaching block and from the legislation knowledge developed in assessment task 1 and its feedback, as well as through the understanding of the required readings and planning theory, the students have to develop one planning report.

Students are requird to critically reflect on the implications of the legislative framework and contemporary planning approaches when applied to real-world scenarios.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3, 6, 7 and 8

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, I.1, P.1 and R.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

2000 words

Minimum requirements

Students must meet attendance requirements and overall must obtain at least 50% of the total marks.

Required texts

Texts are supplied on the first day of the subject.