In response to the impacts of the bush fire crisis, the NSW Government has now made amendments to the Local Government (Manufactured Home Estates, Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation 2005 (‘Caravan Regulations’) in addition to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 (‘General Regulations’) and State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (‘SEPP’) to facilitate bush-fire related response and recovery. All amendments are currently in force.

We recently reported on the changes to the General Regulations and SEPP but for your convenience they are included below the changes to the Caravan Regulations.

Amendments to the Local Government (Manufactured Home Estates, Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation 2005 (‘Caravan Regulations’)

On 5 February 2020, the Caravan Regulations were amended to ease the regulations surrounding caravan parks and camping grounds and provide crucial relief for individuals affected by bush fires.

As per the explanatory note, the object of the amendments is to ‘assist in the provision of emergency accommodation for persons affected by bush fires by:

  1. permitting the owner, manager, operator or caretaker of a caravan park or camping ground to authorise a person to stay in the caravan park or camping ground for an extended period (of up to 2 years) if satisfied that the person has been displaced because of a bush fire, and [see clause 73(4)-(5)]
  2. providing that the prior approval of the council is not required to install [a] moveable dwelling or associated structure within a caravan park or camping ground if the owner, manager, operator or caretaker of a caravan park or camping ground is reasonably satisfied that the installation of the moveable dwelling or associated structure is necessary for the purposes of accommodating a person who has been displaced because of a bush fire, and [see clause 74(4A)]
  3. permitting the installation of any moveable dwellling and associated structure on land without the need for an approval for the purposes of accommodating a person who has been displaced because of a bush fire, but only if the moveable dwelling or associated structure is maintained in a healthy and safe condition and removed within 2 years after it is installed, and [see clause 77(d)]
  4. permitting the general manager of a council to modify the conditions to which a primitive camping ground is subject if the general manager is reasonably satisfied that it is necessary to do so for the purposes of accommodating persons who have been displaced because of bush fires’. (see clause 132(6)).

Amendments to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 (‘General Regulations’)

On 24 January 2020, the General Regulations were amended to insert ‘Clause 170A – Prescribed expenditure to assist councils with bush fire-related response and recovery’.

The explanatory note to the amendment states the objective of the clause is ‘to prescribe an amount of $500,000 as exempt from the tendering requirements that councils must comply with under the Local Government Act 1993 for contracts entered into for the purpose of bush fire-related response and recovery’.

The amendment only applies to contracts entered into between 17 January 2020 and 1 July 2020 (cl 170A(a) of the General Regulations) that are ‘primarily for the purpose of bush fire-related response and recovery’ [our emphasis].

Councils should keep this in mind when considering bush fire-related works in the near future (up until 1 July 2020). The amendment will assist Councils to more efficiently carry out bush fire-related works by saving on time and costs that would usually be required under normal tendering processes under s 55(3)(n)(i) of the Local Government Act 1993.

Amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (‘SEPP’)

On 31 January 2020, the SEPP was amended in consideration of the ongoing bushfire crisis in NSW.

Subject to the provisions surrounding heritage items and heritage conservation areas, clause 2.25 allows for the:

‘(a) demolition of—

(i) . . .

(ii) a building, the structure of which is significantly damaged by a bush fire,

(b) partial demolition of a building damaged by a bush fire (where the structure of the building in not significantly damaged), only to the extent necessary to make the building safe.’

Further provisions allow for repair works to be carried out to fences, gates or other barrier in accordance with specifications regarding size, location and materials (see cl 2.30AB(d) of the SEPP) and ‘repairs necessary to make the building or structure secure and weatherproof and in the case of a dwelling, safe and suitable for habitation but must not include a repair (other than a temporary repair) to a structural element of the building’ (cl 2.30AB(e) of the SEPP).

Additionally, the use of shipping containers have temporarily been allowed to be installed and used for storage purposes in certain circumstances and in accordance with specific development standards (see cl 2.72A-2.72B of the SEPP).

Councils will need to be aware of these provisions as they and their constituents continue their response, recovery and reconstruction efforts.