Why has the draft River Murray Flood Resilience Code Amendment been developed?

    The high number of homes, shacks and businesses affected by the recent River Murray floods is unprecedented.

    The draft River Murray Flood Resilience Code Amendment has been developed to provide clearer guidance for impacted communities to rebuild more flood-resilient development.

    It aims to minimise the impact of future River Murray floods on permanent residents, shack owners, businesses and irrigators, and help mitigate future flood risk and support sustainable, resilient communities.

    What are the proposed improvements to the planning rules regarding building requirements?

    Proposed changes to the River Murray Floodplain Protection Area Overlay are:

    • include reference to holding tanks as being an acceptable form of wastewater management
    • include reference to flood mitigation and the potential for character impacts
    • include finished floor levels for dwellings and other valuable buildings to mitigate risk of inundation in future flood events 
    • include additional policy which limits the height of elevated finished floor levels regardless of 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (one in 100-year flood) height
    • greater flexibility in building height allowances 
    • updated policy regarding design techniques and building materials for underfloor structures
    • include additional policy criteria which limits additions to existing single-storey dwellings 
    • include additional policy that relates to the design of buildings and structures within a caravan or tourist park, and requires habitable buildings and structures in a caravan park are relocatable.

    Proposed changes to the Rural Shack Settlement Zone are:

    • adding that residential ancillary buildings are sited and designed not to detract from the waterfront
    • include reference to sites with a direct river frontage regarding primary street setbacks for carports and outbuildings to streamline approvals 
    • rezone land at Paisley from Conservation Zone to Rural Shack Settlement Zone
    • rezone land at Murbko from Rural Zone to Rural Shack Settlement Zone.

    Data on floodwater levels and the extent of inundation during the recent flood event has been collated and considered in forming these proposed changes to the Planning and Design Code.

    For more information:

    • Read the draft River Murray Flood Resilience Code Amendment 
    • Read the draft River Murray Food Resilience Code Amendment summary

    What changes to finished floor levels and overall building height requirements are included in the draft Code Amendment?

    Previously, planning rules along the river sought to ‘cap’ the height of a dwelling living floor level to no more than 2.5 m above ground and the overall building height to 7.5 m.

    The draft Code Amendment seeks to remove the previous height ‘cap’ of 2.5 m for the elevated floor level and increase this generally to 3 m, or in more extreme cases up to 4 m (where it is evident that extra height is required to be above the flood level).

    To compensate for this additional floor height allowance, it is also proposed to allow some additional flexibility in overall building height (to 8 m), whilst still preventing development greater than two storeys to minimise visual impacts.

    What changes to design techniques and building materials for underfloor structures are included in the draft Code Amendment?

    Under previous planning rules, dwellings in the flood plain could ‘enclose’ the external framework of an undercroft storage area with ‘removeable panels’ which could be detached prior to a flood event to allow the passage of floodwaters through the undercroft area.

    Presently, there is evidence of elevated dwellings along the river that have fully enclosed undercroft areas with non-removable materials, that have been lined and used as bathrooms, bedrooms and living spaces. This significantly decreases the ability for such dwellings to withstand a flood.

    The Code Amendment therefore proposes the installation of roller doors or similar on all four sides of any enclosed area in lieu of the former removable panels to better ensure the free passage of floodwaters through such spaces.

    In addition, new design rules are proposed to maintain some open areas around the storage areas for the free passage of floodwaters. 

    Greater flexibility is however being provided to increase the allowable area for storage purposes to 60 m2 (up from 15 m2).

    This policy approach is supported by easy-to-follow diagrams to enable better understanding for applicants and planning authorities alike.

    Why are improvements proposed to planning rules regarding the River Murray Flood Plain Protection Area Overlay?

    The desired outcomes from proposed improvements to the River Murray Flood Plain Protection Area Overlay are:

    • conservation and protection of water quality and the riverine environment, provision for environmental water flows, the protection of life and property against flood risk, and recognition of the riverine environment as an important ecological, tourist and recreational resource.
    • development for the purpose of recreation (eg landings, jetties, houseboat moorings) water extraction, wetland management and irrigation management (eg channel, pumping stand, flood gate).

    Why are improvements proposed to the planning rules regarding the Rural Shack Settlement Zone?

    The desired outcome from proposed improvements to the Rural Shack Settlement Zone is:

    • limited development within an environment where natural processes such as flooding, sea-level rise, sand drift and erosion occur
    • the natural environment is protected from inappropriate development and existing development is upgraded to incorporate environmental improvements.

    What rezoning is proposed in the Code Amendment?

    The following areas in the District Council of Loxton Waikerie are proposed to be rezoned to the Rural Shack Settlement Zone:

    • two established shack settlements at Paisley are proposed to be rezoned from Conservation Zone (see map)
    • one established shack settlement at Murbko is proposed to be rezoned from Rural Zone (see map)

    What does ‘Early Commencement’ mean?

    The Early Commencement process is used when the Minister considers that the policy changes need to be applied immediately in the interests of orderly and proper development and to counter applications for undesirable development. 

    The draft River Murray Flood Resilience Code Amendment will come into effect under Section 78 of the Act at the same time as it is released for consultation.  

    As a result, the policies being proposed in this Code Amendment will apply for 12 months from the date of commencement, or until they are adopted (or otherwise) by the Minister.

    Why has this Code Amendment come into effect at the same time as community engagement?

    The draft Code Amendment has come into effect on an interim basis when released for community engagement due to the urgency of providing clear rules to support flood-resilient redevelopment.

    How is a development application assessed during the ‘Early Commencement’ period, while the draft Code Amendment is open for consultation?

    If a development application is lodged during the ‘Early Commencement’ period, the application must be assessed against the previous version of the Code as well as the version of the Code that has commenced early. If the outcome of the assessment differs, a decision cannot be made until the Code Amendment is no longer on ‘early commencement’.

    If the version of the Code that commenced early decreases the consultation requirements, then the original version of the Code must be used for assessment purposes.

    How might this draft Code Amendment affect my insurance premiums?

    While insurance premiums are likely to increase, if a rebuilt property meets the requirements outlined in the River Murray Flood Resilience Code Amendment it gives insurance companies confidence that the building will be resilient to future floods and it is likely that the property could be reinsured.

    Where can I find further information about rebuilding after the River Murray floods?

    For more information about rebuilding after the River Murray flood, including design, materials and risk, visit the PlanSA website.

    For general information about flood recovery, visit the South Australian Government’s River Murray Flood Recovery website for the latest information.