New Development Codes in New South Wales seek to address the “missing middle”

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) has been amended to fast track development of low rise medium density housing across the state.

The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code (the Code), the Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide (the Design Guide) and the Greenfield Housing Code form part of the new amendments, which came into effect on 6 July 2018.

Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code 

The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code allows for the approval of one- and two-storey dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces under a fast track complying development approval pathway. The Code will apply across all of NSW, in the R1, R2, R3 and RU5 zones, where medium density housing is permitted under a Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

An amendment to the Codes SEPP has been made to place the new definitions of manor houses and multi dwelling housing (terraces) in the Code. This means these housing types can be assessed under the complying development pathway, or if they do not comply with the standards, under a development application (DA) with the local council.

The Code is supported by a Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for Complying Development to make it easier for applicants to build well designed, quality medium density housing across NSW.

Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for DAs

Where a proposal does not meet the development standards in the Code, applicants will be able to lodge a DA for manor houses, terraces or dual occupancies, where it is permitted under the council’s LEP.

A Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for Development Applications (Design Guide for DAs) has been prepared by the Department of Planning to support councils when assessing DAs, and support designers and applicants when preparing applications.

An amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 will require councils to consider the Design Guide for DAs when assessing DAs for manor houses and terraces, until Development Control Plans for these housing types are in place.

Temporary deferral of the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code

Many councils commenced the implementation of the Code on 6 July 2018. For councils that have requested additional time, a deferral has been granted until 1 July 2019. A list of the 50 LGAs who have deferred commencement is noted in clause 3B.63 of the Codes SEPP and is available on the Department of Planning’s website.

Greenfield Housing Code 

The Greenfield Housing Code also commenced on 6 July 2018, and applies to greenfield areas across NSW. It will allow 1-2 storey homes, alterations and additions to be carried out under the fast-track complying development approval pathway in greenfield areas mapped by the Greenfield Housing Code Area Map on the NSW Legislation website.

Will the new Codes address the “missing middle”?

Traditionally, new residential development in New South Wales fell into two categories: houses or apartments. The Department of Planning hopes that the Code will:

  • increase the supply of housing across NSW, especially in Sydney, consequently improving housing affordability;
  • better meet the needs of our changing population by providing a broader range of housing options to suit different lifestyle needs;
  • help to maintain the local character of neighborhoods with a storey height limit, ensuring that the size and scale of development will fit into established streetscapes and new release areas; and
  • ensure a consistent approach to the good design of medium density housing across NSW.

It is likely that a number of councils across Sydney will embrace the Codes and Design Guide for DAs, particularly those areas where fast-paced high density development has encountered significant community scrutiny. Applicants alike are sure to be encouraged by the fast-tracked assessment processes that promote an alternative type of dwelling to residents across the State.

This post was written by Maddocks lawyer Melinda Norquay


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