Urgent call for post-floods home protection for all
Authorities need to carefully consider any future moves to release land for homes in flood prone areas, in the wake of the devastating natural disasters that have plagued Australia in recent weeks.
That's the opinion of First National boss Ray Ellis, who believes in relevant cases, council housing plans and development applications need to take into consideration the possible impact of flooding on new and even existing areas.
Regulations governing the erection of homes and buildings in areas subject to natural disasters, such as cyclones, are in place in parts of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
In other states, such as NSW, 'All developments on land that is designated as bush fire prone has a legal obligation to consider bush fire and meet the requirements of Planning for Bush Fire Protection', according to development regulations enacted earlier this year.
While Mr Ellis points out the Queensland city of Ipswich, 50km southwest of Brisbane, is one region that has regulations governing land use in the wake historical floods there in 1974 and 2011.
The Brisbane and Bremer Rivers meet at Ipswich, which makes it susceptible to flooding. As such land use regulations have been drawn up accordingly.
It is a model other areas that have been hit hard by floodwaters in recent weeks, such as the Hawkesbury and mid-north coast regions in NSW, could emulate.
"In the main, councils do a good job of evaluating land release but more can be done," Mr Ellis said.
"We all saw that horrible footage of a home drifting away with the flood waters. That was someone's dreams and investment going away. You can't predict floods with any great certainty. But if we are releasing more land in areas that have traditionally been prone to flooding more due diligence needs to be done.
"If councils have given land the go ahead to have homes built on it, homebuyers will likely assume there is nothing to worry about but that isn't always the case."
Sydney's 'sinking suburb' is a case in point. Hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation have been offered to 841 homeowners in Jordan Springs following a pre-Christmas handout last year from one of the country's biggest development companies.
In what is effectively buying back a suburban area, Lendlease has offered to repurchase every home in Jordan Springs East that is marked by Penrith City Council as susceptible to significant damage caused by subsidence - if they are actually damaged, The Daily Telegraph reported.
"I don't want to get into a debate about government policy," Mr Ellis said.
"That's not what this about. It's about protecting the hopes and dreams and significant financial investment of homeowners who could lose everything when, sadly rather than if, this happens again.
"There are certain towns and certain places that will always be susceptible. This has to be taken into consideration in planning and building requirements.
"And in some cases it is probably something we haven't kept as close as eye on more recently as we might have.
"If you look at parts of Queensland for example, they were always built on stilts to avoid the floodwaters. But now in some cases they aren't and they are probably more likely to be damaged when floods hit."
Originally published as Urgent call for post-floods home protection for all