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The need for more medium density housing

Population growth, demographic changes, lifestyle trends and a need for more affordable housing are driving demand for more homes and a greater variety of housing options in NSW.


One of the ways we can provide more diverse housing options is to increase the supply and quality of low rise medium density housing across NSW.


Low rise medium density housing includes:

  • townhouses and terraces
  • dual occupancies (two homes on one block of land)
  • manor homes (small low-rise residential buildings containing only 3 to 4 homes).

The missing middle

Click here to enlarge.


While large traditional freestanding homes or apartments remain in demand, they don’t meet everyone’s needs, preferences and budgets. Older people, families with children, people living alone and couples all need more housing choices.


The benefits of medium density housing

Medium density housing types have many benefits. For example, they are generally more affordable because they require less land area. They are more sustainable because they share common walls, providing better noise and energy insulation.


Medium density housing can enable family’s greater choice about where they would like to retire. For the Jabbours, building a dual occupancy (duplex) means they can chose to live in the same neighbourhood they grew up in.



Draft Medium Density Design Guide

The draft Medium Density Design Guide aims to improve the design of medium density housing by addressing key considerations, including layout, landscaping, private open space, light, natural ventilation and privacy.


The draft Design Guide has been created in partnership with the Government Architect’s Office.


It will be used to promote good design outcomes for medium density housing across NSW for both complying developments and development applications.


The importance of good design:


What we have done so far

The exhibition of the draft Medium Density Guide and Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) commenced on 12 October until 23 December 2016.


During this period we conducted the Missing Middle Design Competition, where we sought high-quality, innovative design solutions for low-rise medium density housing and to road test the draft Medium Density Design Guide.


We are currently considering feedback on the draft Medium Density Design Guide and EIE for a Medium Density Housing Code.


If finalised, the Code will provide more housing choice to meet different household needs. The Design Guide will promote better design of low rise medium density housing throughout NSW.


For enquiries on the draft Medium Density Design Guide and the Explanation of Intended Effect please email


Last year, we released the Discussion Paper: Options for low rise medium density housing as complying development which sought feedback on what would be required for medium density housing types to be assessed as complying development.


The aim is to make approvals for these housing types faster and more straightforward, providing greater housing supply and choice including more affordable housing.


The draft Medium Density Housing Code and draft Medium Density Design Guide have now been prepared based on the feedback received from the community and stakeholders on the discussion paper.


Draft Medium Density Housing Code

The draft Medium Density Housing Code sets out the development standards that a proposal for medium density housing must meet in order to be assessed as complying development.


As outlined in the Explanation of Intended Effect, the new Medium Density Housing Code will enable the delivery of a range of low rise medium density housing as complying development.


It will apply in both established areas and new release greenfield areas to ensure a consistent approach across NSW.


Importantly, medium density housing will only be able to be carried out as complying development in areas that already allow medium density development under a council’s local environmental plan.


Frequently asked questions

For more information, please read our frequently asked questions

Page last updated: 18/10/2017