Unlocking Low Density: A New Era for Housing Diversity

On the 18 December 2023, the NSW Planning Department released 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.