Handbook Collection

Land Use Planning for Disaster Resilient Communities

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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.

Handbook Showcase webinar

This 60-minute webinar to invites leading Australian experts to unpack the principles and practice of land use planning for disaster resilient communities.

Guest speakers:

Prof. Alan March, University of Melbourne

Dr Alan March is Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne. His research includes the examination of practical governance mechanisms of planning and urban design and the role of urban planning in reducing disaster risks. He is the lead researcher on the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre project “Integrating Urban Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction”.

Prof. Barbara Norman, University of Canberra

Professor Barbara Norman is Chair and Professor of Urban & Regional Planning, University of Canberra, Australia. Professor Norman has a combined professional and academic background as a former national president of the Planning Institute of Australia and a current leader in urban and regional research. Recent international research includes Sustainable Pathways for our Cities and Regions: planning within planetary boundaries (Routledge, 2018) and Are autonomous cities our urban future? Comment in Nature Communications (Nature Communications, 2018). Professor Norman’s next book will be Urban Planning for Climate Change (Routledge, 2021). Professor Norman specializes in cities, coasts and climate change adaptation.

Duncan McLuckie, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Duncan is an expert in flood risk management with extensive experience in government and consultancy. He is currently the Principal Flood Specialist in the Environment, Energy and Science Division of the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment and chair of the National Flood Risk Advisory Group.

Duncan works at a strategic level on a range of flood related policy, technical and industry education initiatives. He is the lead author of Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook 7: Managing the Floodplain and is currently leading the update of the NSW Government’s Floodplain Development Manual.

Duncan has presented on a wide range of flood risk management topics to state, national and international audiences over the last two decades.


Amanda Leck, Former Executive Director, AIDR