Re-building after the River Murray flood

Information to support River Murray communities to rebuild following the flood.

To help aid flood resilience, the Department is investigating possible amendments to the Planning and Design Code.

Flood-affected councils throughout the Murraylands and Riverland, working with PLUS, have identified a number of improvements that could be made to the Code to help mitigate future flood risk and support resilient redevelopment.

Guidelines and support material to outline the process for rebuilding in flood-affected areas, including design, materials, risk mitigation and approval processes to support communities are currently being developed.

Frequently asked questions

To help aid those impacted by the recent floods, the state government (working with flood-affected councils) is urgently investigating potential amendments to the Planning and Design Code (‘the Code’ - the state’s planning ‘rulebook’). Data on floodwater levels in the recent flood event and the extent of inundation is currently being collated and will be considered in forming changes to the Planning and Design Code .

Several improvements to the Code have already been identified to help mitigate future flood risk and support resilient redevelopment, including:

  • more accurate finished floor levels to reduce potential for inundation in future flood events
  • greater flexibility in building height allowances
  • types of suitable building materials and design for underfloor structures
  • reviewing the land use zoning which applies in certain flood affected areas
  • confirming the requirements for wastewater management approvals related to rebuilding.

The above amendments are important factors to be considered when preparing an application to rebuild as they address the potential risk of development being affected by a future flood.

Every effort is being made to confirm the extent and depths of recent floodwaters as quickly as possible so the draft Code Amendment can be finalised then released for a period of community consultation. Due to the urgency of providing clear rules to support flood-resilient redevelopment, it is proposed that the code amendment comes into effect when it is released for community engagement.

Community will have the opportunity to provide their feedback as part of the code amendment process to ensure their needs and concerns are considered in finalising the new requirements.

Potential associated updates to building regulations are also being investigated alongside the amendments to the Code.

Generally, yes. Approval is required to rebuild buildings such as houses, sheds or shops which were badly damaged or destroyed by the flood. The state’s planning system requires this for areas subject to flooding risk to ensure appropriate consideration is given to the design and location of buildings being built or replaced within a sensitive environment.

Presently, to meet the criteria in the Code all new (or replacement) dwellings and dwelling additions need to be elevated at least 300 millimetres above the 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) flood event level to provide a degree of protection for houses from floodwaters. This means that if a property owner currently has an existing ground level dwelling that cannot be repaired (which is explained further below) it will generally need to be replaced with an elevated dwelling.

New dwellings and dwelling additions should also avoid impeding floodwaters. To achieve this, they must either:

  • be wholly located outside of the 1956 floodplain, or
  • limit undercroft enclosures to 15 square metres in area that do not contain habitable rooms and that are clad with removable panels or roller doors.
The above rules are being reviewed by the Code Amendment considering latest data on the levels that floodwaters reached and other learnings from the 2022 River Murray flood event.

Further, the following forms of remediation works generally require approval and you will be required to consult with the relevant council for confirmation:

  • replacement (or addition) of structural framing (floor, wall and roof) members, and
  • replacement of stairs and/or balustrades.

Work that does NOT require approval

The following work does not require approval and property owners will be able to undertake these works without lodging a development application (unless it relates to a heritage listed property):

  • The total demolition of a dwelling
  • The repair or internal alteration of a building that does not adversely affect the structural soundness of the building or the safety of any person using the building. This could be any of the following:
    • ­ removal of fixtures / fittings (e.g. kitchen, laundry and bathooms)
    • ­ removal of non-load bearing partitions
    • ­ replacement of external cladding (wall / roof) and/or internal linings
    • ­ replacement of floor covering / fitted timber flooring
    • ­ windows/doors without an increase in size or location in the framework.

Lodging an application

Lodgement of applications is made via the submission of relevant plans and documentation through the PlanSA portal.

Learn more about the development application process.

Given the extent of the recent floods and expected large influx of rebuild applications, the state government will support local councils to ensure applications are processed as quickly as possible to support the recovery effort.

The state government has previously amended the planning regulations in all flood affected council areas to remove the requirement to obtain planning consent to allow temporary accommodation for up to two years (where a dwelling was destroyed or badly damaged by the flood). This will enable such work to be completed more quickly. A building rules assessment is however still required (either by a private certifier or from the local council) to ensure appropriate safety, liveability and connection of services (such as wastewater) for the temporary structure/s.

No approval is required at all for temporary storage structures on land on which a building, or part of a building, has been destroyed or significantly damaged by the flood. This allowance is limited to structures for the use of the owner of the land for the storage of goods or materials required to assist in recovery and redevelopment that do not:

  • exceed 3 metres in height (measured from ground level)
  • exceed 12.5 metres in length
  • exceed 2.5 metres in width, and
  • remain on the land for a period exceeding 2 years.

To assist affected communities understand the changes to the Code, guidelines and detailed support material will be made available to outline the process for rebuilding in flood-affected areas, including design, materials and risk- mitigation.

Any specific queries about the state’s planning system and the flood recovery effort can be directed to PlanSA using the support request form, by email or calling 1800 752 664.

For any general queries about the flood recovery please refer to for latest information.