The NSW government will introduce reforms that override council planning powers in low and medium density areas.
The move is an attempt to fast track developments – including flats of up to six storeys, terraces, town houses and duplexes – in areas where they are presently not allowed.
Currently, councils have their own rules for the kind of homes that can be built within their LGA. But the government says these aren’t the types of homes needed for the future.
Planning minister Paul Scully says the ‘bold reforms’ will create tens of thousands of new low and mid-rise homes.
“Sydney is one of the least dense cities in the world but fewer than half of councils allow for low and mid-rise residential buildings in areas zoned for such homes,” Mr Scully said.
“We’re confronting a housing crisis so we need to change the way we plan for more housing, we can’t keep building out we need to create capacity for more infill, with more diverse types of homes.”
Capacity for 112,000 new homes
He says the reforms will create capacity for developers to deliver up to an estimated 112,000 new homes across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra.
The changes will allow:
- dual occupancies in all R2 low density residential zones across all of NSW
- terraces, townhouses and two storey apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centres in R2 low density residential zones across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra
- mid-rise apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centres in R3 medium density zones
The government will introduce a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which overrules council LEPs, to enact the changes ‘while simultaneously encouraging councils to add these types of dwellings to their own planning rules’, the minister said.
Addressing the ‘missing middle’
Mr Scully says it comes after the government last month identified a gap in the approval of density, with terraces and 1-2 storey unit blocks allowed under R2 (low density) zoning in only two of 32 Local Environmental Plans, or just six per cent of the LEPs across Sydney.
Meanwhile, residential flat buildings of any scale are prohibited in sixty percent of R3 (medium density) zones across Sydney.
Local Government NSW President Cr Darriea Turley said it was critical that democratically elected local councils retained the right to make decisions in the best interests of their communities.
“There are no cookie cutter solutions to the housing crisis, which is why council planning rules have always reflected their communities’ vision rather than the wishes of developers,” she said.
“While we don’t shy away from the need for more housing, it’s councils who undertake the strategic planning for their communities based on the capacity of services and the availability of infrastructure.”
Developers have hailed the announcement, saying it will prevent councils from using local planning controls to ‘switch off’ apartment developments.
“Urban Taskforce has been calling for reform in the ‘missing middle’ exactly along the lines of the announcement today, Urban Taskforce CEO Tom Forrest said.
“The very welcome message to local councils is clear: change your approach or it will be changed for you.”
Consultation will run until February, 2024 with the SEPP to apply from a date to be announced after that.
Comment has been sought form LGNSW.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at email@example.com.
Sign up to the Government News newsletter