5 Factors To Consider Before Building in Australia’s Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands is mix of colourful gardens, leisurely pursuits, diverse landscape, history and heritage. Geographically it sits between 500m and 900m above sea level on the Great Dividing Range. Like other regions along this plateau, such as the Blue Mountains and Australian Alps, the Southern Highlands is known for its cool temperate climate. It also has a reputation for producing some great wine, the high annual rainfall (460mm – 1,883mm) and quality basalt soil being a match made in heaven for viticulture.

Thinking of building in the Southern Highlands? Here’s 5 factors to consider.

1. Bioregion

The Southern Highlands bioregion covers the dissected ranges and plateaus of the Great Dividing Range. The substrate is formed of Palaeozoic granites, transmuted sedimentary rocks and tertiary basalts. The area is characterised by high, flat country, which has been extensively cleared and used for grazing purposes.

Topographically, the dominant features of the bioregion are plateau remnants, granite basins with prominent ridges formed on contact metamorphic rocks. Soils vary across the bioregion in relation to altitude, temperature and rainfall. Limited areas of shallow organic loams are present at high altitude on Canobolos.

Rich in biodiversity and supporting large areas of land of very high conservation value, Wingecarribee Shire Council aims to protect and enhance the region’s distinct and diverse natural environment. Any new development must ensure that there is no loss of biological diversity or ecological integrity.

A flora and fauna assessment allows Council to make informed decisions regarding the likely impacts of your building proposal on the natural environment. It will report on the nature and extent of impacts, addressing plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

A flora and fauna assessment is required to be lodged with a Development Application (DA) if your property contains native vegetation, is adjacent to native vegetation, contains sensitive environmental areas likely to contain habitat resources for fauna or contains aquatic habitats.

2. Trees and vegetation

Approvals are required to remove one or more exotic or native trees or patches of native vegetation, including trees and understorey.

Under the NSW Government 2017 Biodiversity Law Reforms, Tree and Vegetation Clearing applications which are not part of, or related to, a development application in the Shire are now handled by different agencies depending on the zoning of your property. Local Land Services will handle your application if your property is zoned as Rural while council will handle your application if your property is zoned as non-rural.

Use Council’s Tree and Vegetation Clearing Guide Map tool to locate your property and obtain specific information on who to contact and what application process may be required.

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3. Fire and flooding

You don’t have to live right near the bush to be at risk of fire. Fire can affect homes located by bush, grassland, paddocks or near the coast. Check for bush fire prone areas on your local council website or by looking at the RFS Bush Fire Prone Land online tool.

Prevailing weather conditions associated with the Southern Highlands bushfire season (October to February) usually coincide with strong south-west to north-west winds. There are also frequent dry lightning storms that occur during the bush fire season. Risk is generally influenced by drought and rainfall conditions.

Obtain free property information such as zoning, flood risk and minimum lot size by searching the NSW Planning & Environment planning portal.

4. Water & Sewerage

Wingecarribee Shire Council is the local water authority that provides potable water supply and reticulated sewerage services to residents in the Southern Highlands. Council operates six separate sewerage systems, which serve urban areas around the towns of Berrima and New Berrima, Bowral, Bundanoon, Robertson, Mittagong and Northern Villages, and Moss Vale.

The Council’s regular Capital Works Improvement Program is currently underway with a comprehensive water and sewerage improvement plan. The expected completion date for this is February 2019 subject to weather.

5. Council regulations

Building in the Southern Highlands requires the right balance between protecting the environment, supporting a healthy local economy, and providing effective access to community services and infrastructure.

If you intend to make any changes to a building, build a structure, occupy premises or subdivide land in the Southern Highlands, you will need to check whether the proposal is permissible and whether it requires an application. Obtain advice from Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Development Control Branch, where there are planners and duty surveyors available.

Development applications must be made on Council’s Approvals Application form, with full details of documentation and plans required for lodgement. Good engineering practice and a high standard in design, construction and development must be met. You can learn more about engineering standards here.

Kit home designs to build in the Southern Highlands

Prestige – Kensington, Homestead, Richmond Grove

Build a kit home in the Southern Highlands

Want to take the hard work out of building in the Southern Highlands? Download a Kitome brochure today and work with us to design and build your dream Southern Highlands home. All of our kit home designs are 100% flexible. That means you can alter any of our designs how you like to suit your block of land, or we can design a home with you from scratch. Get in touch with our friendly team to learn more today.