A new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code (the Code) and Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide (the Design Guide) have been introduced to encourage more low rise medium density housing to be built in NSW to provide better housing choice and affordability with improved quality design.
The Code allows one and two storey medium density homes which provide all the amenity of a traditional freestanding home in a well-designed and compact form. It provides a great alternative to apartments and freestanding homes, and fits into existing streets and neighbourhoods. It helps housing affordability by providing smaller homes on smaller lots that still provide all the amenities of a single dwelling and can accommodate a wide variety of lifestyles and needs, including growing families or empty nesters.
Two-storey building height limits are designed to ensure the size and scale of complying development is low rise and will easily fit into established streetscapes.
Many councils commenced the implementation of the Code on 6 July 2018. For councils that have requested additional time, a deferral has been granted by the Minister for Planning and Housing until 1 July 2019. More information is available here.
Complying Development is a fast-track approval pathway for straight forward residential, commercial and industrial development. If the application complies with all of the relevant requirements in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy), it can be approved by a council or an accredited certifier within 20 days.
Benefits of the new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code
Medium density housing can provide a more affordable housing option for families. The Kesharis' terrace house in Penrith allows them an affordable home with good amenity and great access to open space, public transport and shops.
Housing types under the new Code
How the new Code will work
The new Code is included in the State Policy and permits new development types to be approved as complying development including dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces.
Low rise medium density housing as complying development will only be permitted in R1, R2, R3 and RU5 zones where councils already allow it under their Local Environmental Plan (LEP).
Exclusions for where complying development cannot be carried out under the State Policy will continue to apply. For example, complying development cannot be carried out in:
state or locally listed heritage items and heritage conservation areas
land reserved for public purposes
environmentally sensitive areas and areas excluded by Councils based on local circumstances.
For more information, check the State Policy.
The Code establishes the controls for each development type in the form of development standards that a proposal for low rise medium density housing must meet to be assessed as complying development.
The development must meet the minimum lot size requirements under the relevant council LEP
for a dual occupancy, the size of the lot being developed must meet the minimum lot size requirement to build a dual occupancy under the relevant council LEP. If the LEP does not specify a minimum lot size, then the Code applies a minimum 400m2 lot size
for manor houses, a minimum 600m2 lot size requirement applies
for terraces, the size of the lot being developed must meet the minimum lot size requirements to build multi dwelling housing under the relevant council LEP. If the LEP does not specify a minimum lot size, then the Code applies a minimum 600m2 lot size.
Using the new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code
Summary of new development standards
Easy-to-use summary tables of the new development standards have been created for industry professionals, including council planners, certifiers, building designers and architects.
Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for Development Applications
The Department has prepared a Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for Development Applications (Design Guide for DAs) to assist councils when assessing manor houses and terraces as a DA until they develop their Development Control Plans.
The Design Guide for DAs provides councils with best practice controls and design standards to ensure developments are well designed and will fit into the local character of the area.
It was developed with councils, industry and the community to ensure good design outcomes and a consistent approach to medium density housing as complying development is applied across NSW.
The Code includes a requirement to prepare a Design Verification Statement to ensure and promote good design outcomes. The Design Verification Statement must be prepared by a qualified designer (registered architect) or building designer accredited with the Building Designers Association of Australia.
The Department publicly exhibited a draft Medium Density Design Guide and Explanation of Intended Effects for a proposed new Medium Density Housing Code from 12 October 2016 to 23 December 2016. To promote and test the design criteria in the draft Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide and proposed new Code, the Government Architect’s Office ran a design competition. The outcomes of the Design Competition, together with feedback from councils, industry and community, were used to shape and refine the final Code and Design Guide.
Where to go for more information
An education program will be rolled out across NSW to assist the community and stakeholders to learn more about the new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code and Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide.
This includes a series of information sessions and stakeholder workshops. Online learning modules will also be launched soon, to assist people to learn more about each of the new Code.
For more information, you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Service NSW Codes Hotline on 13 77 88.