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The new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code

The new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code will allow one and two storey dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces to be carried out under a fast track complying development approval.


The new Code will provide more housing choice to meet different household needs, and improve housing affordability. It forms part of the NSW Government’s commitment to facilitate faster housing approvals and deliver a diverse range of housing options to support NSW’s changing demographics.


Low rise medium density housing as complying development is only allowed where medium density development is already permitted under a council’s local environmental plan.


The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code will commence on 6 July 2018.


Read the new Code

The Department has prepared a list of frequently asked questions.


Read the FAQ

Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide

The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code is supported by the Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide. The Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide has been developed in close consultation with councils, industry and the community to ensure good design outcomes are achieved for medium density housing.


The design guide has been developed in partnership with the Government Architect’s Office and will ensure a consistent approach to the design and delivery of quality medium density housing in communities right across NSW. The Low Rise 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.


Read the design guide

The Missing Middle Design Competition: What are the benefits of good design?


Administrative amendments

The following Administrative amendments are required to enable the smooth implementation of the new Code will come into force on 6 July 2018.

  • An amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 will allow an applicant to lodge a complying development certificate for medium density housing and concurrent subdivision and require the submission of a Design Verification Statement from the Building Designer
  • An amendment to the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan will introduce two new terms (manor houses and multi dwelling housing (terraces)) and amend the existing definition of multi dwelling housing.
  • Updates to sixteen local environmental plans to add the two new terms and to ensure they are permitted in zones where medium density housing is allowed.

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The benefits of medium density housing

Currently, most new homes built in NSW tend to fall into two categories: traditional free-standing houses and apartments. Medium density housing provides an alternative, as a more affordable housing choice.

Media coverage

Some of the recent media coverage of the new Code:

Videos of the competition winners

Hear from the winners of the Design Competition about the great benefits of medium density housing.

Missing Middle Competition Winners Talk Medium Density Housing


The benefits of the new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code include:

  • increasing the supply of housing across NSW, especially in Sydney, which will help improve housing affordability;
  • better meet the needs of our changing population by providing a broader range of housing options to suit different lifestyle needs;
  • help to maintain the local character of neighbourhoods with a storey height limit. This will ensure the size and scale of development will fit into established streetscapes and new release areas; and
  • ensure a consistent approach to the good design of medium density housing across NSW.

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


A duplex for the Jabbours


A terrace for the Kesharis



In 2015, 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 exhibition of the draft Medium Density Guide and Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) commenced on 12 October until 23 December 2016. The draft Design Guide and EIE proposed changes to allow the construction and concurrent subdivision of dual occupancies, multi dwelling housing (terraces) and manor houses as complying development.

Missing Middle Design Competition

The Government Architect’s Office ran a ‘Missing Middle Design Competition’ to promote and test the controls in the draft Design Guide. The outcomes of the Design Competition and stakeholder feedback were used to shape and tailor the controls in the final design guide 'Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide' and the Medium Density Housing Code.

More information

Page last updated: 23/05/2018