Photograph by Greg O'Beirne (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on a proposal to make it easier to build dual occupancies, manor homes and townhouses or terraces in the state, if they meet set design and building standards.

As the population of NSW is projected to grow by an additional 1.6 million residents by 2031, the city will require an additional 664,000 homes over the next 20 years to house the burgeoning population.

One approach that the government is taking to meet this housing demand is to expand the amount of “medium-density” housing, such as terraces, being built.

However, as there is no consistent state-wide planning policy or design guidance for this type of housing (construction of this type of development is only allowed through a full development application to the local council), there has been an increasing amount of high-density and low-density housing being built through complying development (a fast-tracked, streamlined form of combined planning and construction approval for specified types of development). This has resulted in a “missing middle”.

To counter this and help deliver NSW’s housing choice improvement plan, A Plan for Growing Sydney, the government is considering expanding complying development to include low-rise (one or two storey), medium-density housing types.

Proposal overview

A discussion paper setting out the proposed options has now been made available for public feedback.

  • It suggests the following housing forms could be carried out as a complying development, depending on lot size:
  • development resulting in two dwellings (dual occupancies) on a single lot with a minimum lot size of 400 metres
  • development resulting in three to four dwellings (manor homes) on a single lot with a minimum lot size of 500 metres
  • development resulting in between three and 10 dwellings (townhouses, terraces, or a combination) on a single lot with a minimum lot size of 600 metres

A maximum of 10 dwellings and a height limit of 8.5 metres has been recommended to ensure that the scale and built form of development under complying development is manageable and that any proposed development will fit into an existing residential streetscape.

Design standards for basement car parking, on-site stormwater detention systems, water and recycling storage facilities have also been outlined in the discussion paper to ensure that the developments are of “minimal impact on the streetscape and surrounding development”.

It is hoped that expanding complying development to medium-density housing will reduce the approval process by around 50 days, reduce costs to homeowners and provide more efficient delivery of a diverse range of housing types to meet the needs of home buyers.

For example, a third of homeowners surveyed by the Department of Planning and Environment last year said they would consider downsizing to terraces in the future. However, as there has been a lack of this type of housing being built, some have criticised the government for “building the wrong things”.

Comments will be accepted on the paper until 31 January 2016, and will reportedly help form the draft policy, which will also then be made available for public comment.

“We must provide quality, sustainable and affordable housing stock”

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said: “What has been absent for a long time in NSW is a consistent approach to housing like terraces and dual occupancies.

“Sydney will need an extra 664,000 homes over the next 20 years. To plan for this growth we must provide quality, sustainable and affordable housing stock for those who need it, where they need it.

“Terraces and villas are more energy efficient than detached houses and medium density housing also offers more variety and flexibility for Sydney’s changing demographics.”

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  1. If Sydney doesn’t get over it’s obsession with it’s fear of tall buildings, none will get built driving up the prices even further.