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NSW Planning Updates

A Comment From Our Founders

Our opinion is that the proposed changes to the planning rules is a much needed initiative to tackle the housing shortage in NSW. Council Approval Group is in direct consultation with the NSW Department of Planning as the changes progress. We are here, ready and able to assist property owners to understand how the proposed planning changes will affect their properties.

For now, these changes are only in draft format and it’s too early to comment specifically on individual properties, however we will keep you updated.

Unlocking Low Density: A New Era for Housing Diversity

An overview of State Government information released 18 December 2023

On the 18 December 2023, the NSW Planning Department released further details on proposed changes to planning law called ‘NSW Diverse and Well Located Housing Reforms’. These proposals focus principally on dual occupancies, multi-unit housing (eg townhouses), manor houses and small to medium rise apartment buildings. This article will focus principally on the reforms as they relate to R2 zoned properties.

The New South Wales government has proposed a visionary change to our urban landscape, with an aim to diversify our housing options. Under the new proposal, multi-dwelling housing and manor houses will be allowed with consent in Low-Density Residential zones, specifically around key urban precincts.

Manor Houses: Redefining Residential Spaces

This new plan redefines manor houses, removing the confinement of the 3 or 4 dwelling restriction. These 2-storey residential flat buildings will expand the potential for higher-density living without compromising on quality and design.

Strategic Urban Precincts: Accessibility Meets Liveability

The focus areas for this development will be strategically chosen within the Six Cities Region, ensuring they are within an 800m walking distance from major transport hubs like heavy rail, metro, or light rail stations. Additionally, proximity to commercial and metropolitan centres with a wealth of amenities will be a prerequisite, fostering a well-connected and vibrant community life.

Non-Refusal Standards: Balancing Growth and Impact

To balance the need for more housing with the impact on existing communities and environments, the government proposes ‘non-refusal standards’ for development in these precincts. These standards will guide the height, floor-space ratio, and minimum site area, among other criteria, for terraces and manor houses, ensuring that they contribute positively to the local streetscape and community.

For example, terraces will have a maximum building height of 9.5m and a floor-space ratio of 0.7:1, with minimum site area and lot width requirements set to ensure they fit comfortably within the existing urban fabric.

Design and Environment: A Conscious Approach

The proposal is not just about increasing density; it’s about doing it right. Design guides and local requirements will continue to shape the form and impact of these new dwellings, taking into account privacy, overshadowing, and environmental considerations.

Parking and Landscaping: A Thoughtful Revision

Parking requirements for terraces and manor houses will see a reduction, particularly in areas with good access to public transport and amenities, reducing the impact on street parking and allowing for more green spaces and landscaping.

Continuing Legacy: Respecting Planning Controls

Despite these changes, other planning controls related to heritage and environment will remain in effect, ensuring that new developments respect the character and integrity of our neighbourhoods.

Towards a Sustainable Future: The Role of Subdivision

The proposal also includes provisions for the subdivision of multi-dwelling housing, making way for a more sustainable and well-planned urban growth.

Embracing Change: A Call for Feedback

The NSW government is actively seeking input from councils to identify which centres are suitable for these reforms. It’s a call for collaboration, ensuring that the future of our urban spaces is decided by those who know them best.

Having helped over 30,000 people since 1996 to navigate the Council Approval landscape, we stand ready to assist clients to better unlock the possibilities of these proposed changes as they roll out.

Diverse & Well-Located Homes

An overview of State Government information released 8 December 2023

The NSW Government is proposing changes to the planning rules to help speed up the delivery of a range of different housing types to suit people’s changing lifestyle needs.

Our households are changing, but for a long time we haven’t been building the kind of homes people want. We need more choice of different types of homes in well-located areas within walking distance from transport and close to shops and services.

– NSW Department of Planning


The State Government reforms will look at a range of opportunities to unlock supply of low-rise housing like Terraces and Dual Occupancies and mid-rise housing of up to 6 storeys in well-located areas. Reforms will contribute to more housing diversity and affordability as well as creating thriving local communities.

A fact sheet released on December 8, 2023 provided some further information on the proposed changes:

  • Dual Occupancies will be allowed on all land zoned R2 in NSW
  • Multi-dwelling housing (terraces) on land zoned R2 within station and town centre precincts (these have not been defined) across NSW
  • There will be new standards (controls) for building height, lot size and floor space ratios.  The actual controls have not been released in the Fact Sheet.
  • There will be new pathways to enable subdivision under the development approval pathway for multi-dwelling housing (terraces) and dual occupancies.

The state government proposal will likely go on public exhibition for public feedback in early Decemeber 2023.

To view the Diverse & Well-Located Homes Fact Sheet in full, click here.

To view the original NSW State Government Media Release in full, click here.

New Planning Rules

An overview of State Government information released 28 November 2023

We all know housing supply and affordability is one of the greatest issues facing our state.

The NSW Government have recently announced significant changes to planning laws, designed to fast track low-rise and mid-rise housing. This may see a number of low and mid-rise buildings now allowed in areas they are currently banned. This will allow for greater construction of well located, low and mid rise homes in the form of townhouses, terraces and small apartment blocks.

Currently individual councils control and enforce their own regulations regarding zoning and what kinds of homes can be built in their area. These outdated regulations haven’t allowed for the increase in homes we desperately need for the next generation.

So what does this mean for you?

The opportunity for many property owners is significant. Previously disallowed small to medium development will now be permissible. Government estimates that 112,000 new homes could be created across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast, and Illawarra- Shoalhaven regions.

Details of the Government’s proposed changes include:

  • Dual occupancies (two separate homes on a single lot), such as duplexes, in all R2 low density residential zones across all of NSW.
  • Terraces, townhouses and two storey apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centre’s in R2 low density residential zones across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra (the Six Cities region).
  • Mid-rise apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centres in R3 medium density zones and appropriate employment zones. This will mean more housing just a short 10-minute walk (800m) from transport hubs, shops and amenities.

The state government proposal will go on public exhibition for public feedback in early Decemeber 2023. To view the NSW State Government Media Release in full, click here.