Effective land use planning in areas that are subject to, or potentially subject to, natural hazards can significantly reduce the increase in disaster risk and enhance the resilience of existing and future communities.
The Land Use Planning for Disaster Resilient Communities handbook focuses on land use planning for new development and its role in supporting disaster resilient communities. Land use planning that considers natural hazard risk is the single most important mitigation measure in minimising the increase in future disaster losses in areas of new development. Planning is a multi-objective process that requires balancing development with a range of community requirements and ongoing updating of appropriate planning tools. By considering natural hazards early and through its processes, land use planning can evaluate and select land use mechanisms to treat disaster risk. In particular, it can direct new development to suitable locations, avoiding or reducing the exposure to natural hazards and the impact of new development on the behaviour of natural hazards. To effectively consider natural hazards and manage their associated risks via land use planning, collaborative approaches across a range of sectors and capabilities are necessary, including land use planners, built environment professionals and developers, natural hazard and emergency managers, and community members and leaders.
The handbook introduces community wellbeing and disaster resilience as the overarching aim of land use planning and disaster risk reduction and outlines nationally agreed principles for land use planning for disaster resilient communities. The aim and principles provide the context for good practice in general as well as across the document. Significant natural hazards and their impacts in Australia are summarised, providing background information about the key concepts such as vulnerability, exposure and risk.
The handbook also presents a procedural framework for land use planning for disaster resilient communities. The framework can be applied across the decision-making process at the different levels of land use planning. Three levels of land use planning are described: legislative and regulatory framing; the plans for managing land use, and development and growth; and the ongoing land use planning and implementation processes. The main instruments and the process to develop and review them are outlined for each of these three levels. Lastly, limitations to land use planning capacity for disaster resilient communities and some ways forward are presented.