Why is Council considering this scheme?

    Council is keen to support economic growth in the Shire.

    The South Bairnsdale Industrial Estate (estate) is considered East Gippsland’s premier industrial estate for large scale developments. The estate is partially developed with several significant and many smaller operations.  

    There is considerable potential for further development on the estate in terms of new developments as well as upgrades to existing developments, with 34 vacant and 27 under-developed lots as well as 3 subdivisions in progress to create an additional 25 lots. (December 2019) 

    The Building Code of Australia requires buildings over 500m2 of floorspace and below 2,000m2 to have a firefighting capacity of 200kpa in pressure and flow rate of 25 litres per second.  This is much greater than currently provided to the estate by East Gippsland Water.  This means that anyone wanting to construct a building over 500m2 of floorspace and below 2,000m2 is currently required to install a private firefighting service.

    The costs associated with meeting the building code are estimated to be $50,000-$150,000 for each property. 

    This cost is an impediment to most development, reducing land values, limiting development, and limiting economic growth in Bairnsdale and East Gippsland. 

    Haven’t Council tried to establish a special charge scheme previously?

    Yes, Council has tried previously to establish this special scheme charge however efforts were abandoned.  

    What has changed this time is that East Gippsland Water are undertaking augmentation works for other reasons, and upgraded these works which will reduced the total cost of the scheme reducing the amount of money needed to be collected from landowners.  

    In addition, the Victorian Government through Regional Development Victoria has provided a funding contribution to teh value of $500,000.

    Council is also planning to contribute to the works.  

    These combined factors will significantly reduced the cost to landowners.

    How did this situation occur in the first place?

    When the industrial estate was originally created through rezoning, it was common practice for the CFA to approve the construction of buildings greater than 500m2 without the need for the private fire service.  

    After the Black Saturday bushfires, the CFA can no longer make these exemptions and so it is necessary to install private fire-fighting systems. 

    Upgrading the entire water supply across the estate, will eliminate the need for private fire-fighting systems to be installed.

    What if my building is over 2,000m2?

    The upgrade of water supply will meet firefighlting requirements for buildings between 500m2 and 2,000m2.

    Building over 2,000m2 have additional requirements for fire-fighting and this propsal will not supply water that meets those requirements.

    Will payments be compulsory?

    If a special charge scheme is approved by Council then all landowners covered by the scheme will be required to pay the contribution.

    What if I can’t pay?

    An instalment plan will be made available to contributors.

    What if the scheme is rejected by Council?

    Council is required to undertake formal community consultation under the Local Government Act.  

    Should there be significant objections to the augmentation of the water supply to fire-fighting standards, the scheme and the project will not proceed.

    This means that anyone wanting to build a building greater than 500m2 floorspace will be required to install and maintain their own private fire-fighting service at a cost of $50,000-$150,000.  

    This will continue to limit the development of the estate and have negative impacts on the economic growth of Bairnsdale.

    Why isn’t Council paying for this?

    Council is considering making a $400,000 contribution to this project.  This contribution is 50% of the amount that must be raised after the East Gippsland Water and Victorian Government contributions have been made.  

    This is considered a responsible use of ratepayer funds because East Gippsland as a whole, will benefit from improved economic conditions.  

    In addition the construction of the scheme will provide special benefits to landowners who will now be able to construct buildings greater than 500m2 floorspace without incurring the cost and inconvenience of installing a private fire-fighting service estimated to cost $50,000-$150,000.

    How much will I pay?

    The current propsal estimates that land owners will pay a one-off payment as listed below.

    The table below indicates an estimated cost only:

    Block Size

    Special Charge Scheme Levy – likely Range of Cost

    < 550 m2


    >550m2 <1100m2

    $280 to $560

    >1100 m2 < 1650m2

    $560 to $1,120

    >1650m2 < 2200 m2

    $840 to $1,680

    >2200 m2

    Calculated according to following formula

    = (Land area/550)

    x ($280 to $560 range)

    How was the formula calculated?

    The formula is based on Council’s Special Charge Scheme Policy which is currently being updated.  

    The policy refers to a ‘benefit Unit’.  In the case of this project a ‘benefit unit’ has been defined as the number of buildings greater than 500m2 floor space that can be constructed on a block.  

    Council has worked out the number of ‘benefit units’ (number of 500m2 floorspace buildings) that could be installed across the estate.  

    The cost per ‘benefit unit’ has been determined by dividing the amount of money to be raised ($400,000) by the number of potential benefit units across the estate.

    How much is being raised from the Special Charge Scheme?

    Council proposes to raise $400,000 through the Special Charge Scheme.

    What do the works involved?

    East Gippsland Water will be upgrading pipes and pumping systems to enable the flow rate and pressures to meet fire-fighting standards.

    What blocks does the scheme apply to?

    This scheme applies to the most sites in South Bairnsdale Industrial Estate - please see the map provided as there are some areas on the southern side that are not included in this proposal.

    What if Council approves the Special Charge Scheme but I don’t want to pay it as I don’t want to construct a building greater than 500m2 floor-space on my block?

    Should the Special Charge Scheme be approved by Council then the scheme will be payable by all landowner providing that they have a block greater than 550m2 floorspace unless they have already installed a private fire service.

    This is because the landowner may choose to sell the block and future owners will benefit from the scheme.

    What if I have already installed a fire service?

    If you have already installed a private fire service and have apporpriate approvals, you will not be required to contribute to the scheme.

    Why do I have to pay more because my block is bigger than 1100m2?

    For blocks greater than 1100m2 it has been assumed that more than one building greater than 500m2 floorspace can be constructed.  

    The block will attract a special services scheme charge in proportion to how many buildings greater than 500m2 could be constructed.

    What if I have a large block that is not yet subdivided?

    Some very large blocks are yet to be subdivided.  

    These blocks will need to have internal roadways constructed to service these blocks.   

    For larger blocks we are considering appplying a 17% subtraction of the total land area to which teh schem will apply, as this space may become roads and public space. 

    The assumed 17% is based on a recent subdivision in the estate.

    What if my block is under 550m2?

    If your block is under 550m2 then it is not practical to build a building greater than 500m2 and so you will not get any benefit from the scheme and will not be asked to contribute to the scheme.

    What if I have a block greater than 550m2 but have already constructed a building smaller than 500m2. Do I still have to contribute?

    Yes.  It has been assumed that any buildings could be extended to a size greater than 500m2.  In this case should the scheme have not been implemented then it would still be necessary pay for a private fire-fighting service at an estimated cost of $50,000 - $150,000.

    How can I get further information?

    Two drop-in sessions will be held on:


    Wednesday 20 January,    1pm to 4pm

    Thursday 21 January,        9am to 12pm


    Bairnsdale Library

    Meeting room 1

    22 Service Street

    Bairnsdale Vic 3875

    For further information contact Stephen Kleinitz, Senior Economic Development Officer (03) 5153 9500