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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Many people in NSW have lost their homes or businesses in the recent devastating bushfires across the state. The NSW Government is continuing to make changes to planning rules to make it easier for people to recover and rebuild after the bushfires. The NSW Government is continuing to work with councils and state agencies on what else is needed to support the recovery and rebuilding effort.


Planning changes to facilitate rebuilding

Temporary premises for bushfire affected businesses

The new provisions for bushfire affected communities allow bushfire affected businesses in business, industrial and RU5 Rural Villages zones, to operate temporarily out of a shipping container and/or a portable office for up to two years.


These changes aim to help businesses trade in the short- to medium-term while they plan for their permanent rebuild.


Development standards will ensure that the development is safe and low impact. Up to two shipping containers or two portable offices, or one of either is allowed on a property. These rules only apply to businesses with a prior approval to operate.


More information about these new provisions can be found below.


Other recent changes

Clearing for bushfire protection

  • On 3 September 2020, a new provision was included in the Koala SEPP to facilitate the safe and speedy rebuilding and repair of homes impacted by bushfires. Find out more on our Koala SEPP page.

Demolition, repairs and temporary storage

  • On 31 January 2020, the Department expanded the current exemptions policy to ensure that more people impacted by the bushfires are able to clean up and make safe their property without the need for planning approvals. People will also be able to store their belongings on site, for example in shipping containers, while they rebuild.

Temporary accommodation

  • On 5 February 2020, changes were also made to allow people affected by the bushfires to establish temporary accommodation, like caravans, without the need for council approval. 

Fee waiver

  • From 4 February 2020, the applicable government fees – BASIX Certificate and the Planning Reform Fund fees – will be waived on all development applications related to homes damaged or destroyed in the recent bushfires.
  • Affected property owners can contact the Department to arrange for a BASIX Certificate to be issued free of charge. Councils can refer applicants to the BASIX bushfire recovery advice line. The contact number is 1300 054 464.


Further information on the Initiatives that commenced on 31 January 2020 and 5 February 2020 and further general guidance on returning to your property, cleaning up and rebuilding your home are provided below.

Temporary rules for building works

Certain demolition, repair works, and the use of storage containers will be allowed without council approval.

Snowy river landscape. Photo by: DPIE/ Vanessa Allen

Temporary accommodation

Changes assist in the provision of emergency accommodation such as caravans.

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Temporary premises for bushfire affected businesses

Bushfire affected businesses can operate out of a shipping container or portable office for up to two years.

Shipping containers modified into office at Falcon Structures. Photo CC BY-NC 2.0 Flickr /

Overview of the planning system

Information for homeowners and businesses to understand what approvals may be required to rebuild.

close up image of hands pointing at plans spread on a table

How to make a Development Application

Your step-by-step guide to making a Development Application to repair or rebuild your home.

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Outbuildings in rural areas

The following information explains exempt provisions for outbuildings in rural areas.

Farming landscape, Menangle, NSW.

Secondary dwellings (granny flats)

Guidance for residents who want to construct a secondary dwelling while construction of the main house is underway.

Homes in construction in residential area in Kellyville, North West Sydney, NSW.

Temporary business uses

The planning system currently provides options that may assist businesses to continue to operate where premises have been damaged by bushfires.

Woman picking fruit on Belmore Road shops in Riverwood, South Sydney NSW.

Infrastructure recovery approval

Information about approvals needed to repair and rebuild infrastructure damaged or destroyed by the bushfires.

Communication tower near Cooma, NSW.

Cleaning up and rebuilding

Information about approvals needed to repair and rebuild infrastructure damaged by bushfires.

A builder works on a house under construction.