The NSW Government promotes better apartment design across NSW through the State Environmental Planning Policy No – 65 Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development (SEPP 65).
This policy aims to deliver a better living environment for the residents now choosing this form of housing, and enhance our streetscapes and our neighbourhoods across the State.
It does this by establishing a consistent approach to the design and assessment of apartments and the way they are assessed by councils.
The Apartment Design Guide explains how to apply SEPP 65’s design principles to the design of new apartments.
2015 Review of SEPP 65 & Residential Flat Design Code
After over a decade of operation, a comprehensive review of SEPP 65 was finalised in 2015. The review included extensive community and stakeholder consultation and resulted in a number of changes to the policy, including the overhaul of the Residential Flat Design Code into the Apartment Design Guide.
The changes were made to support further improvements in apartment design, and also to help improve housing affordability and supply.
Note: The changes to SEPP 65 were notified on the NSW legislation website on 19 June 2015, but will commence four weeks after this date on 17 July 2015.
The changes to SEPP 65 include savings provisions. For apartment development applications lodged prior to 19 June 2015, the Residential Flat Design Code applies.
For apartment development applications lodged after 19 June 2015 and determined after 17 July 2015, the Apartment Design Guide, along with the changes to SEPP 65 will apply.
Apartment Design Guide
The Apartment Design Guide provides consistent planning and design standards for apartment development across the State.
A copy of the Apartment Design Guide is provided for information ahead of the commencement of the SEPP 65 amendment on 17 July 2015. The Apartment Design Guide will be formally published by the Department on this website on 17 July 2015.
The Guide is a useful tool for councils, planners, architects and developers who are planning a residential apartment development, designing a building, or assessing applications for such developments
The Apartment Design Guide will replace the former Residential Flat Design Code.
SEPP 65 Design Review Panels
SEPP 65 now allows councils to appoint design review panels which can advise on whether an apartment development meets the design principles and, if not, make recommendations on ways to comply.
Design review panels will conduct site visits and examine how the proposed developments will relate to the streetscape and the neighbourhood.
More information on the role and functions of the design review panels can be found in the Apartment Design Guide (Part 5).
The importance of good apartment design
An apartment design policy is important because:
- the demand for quality affordable apartments is growing in response to demographic changes;
- good apartment design can make neighbourhoods more attractive; and
- it encourages a more consistent approach to design across the state, more certainty for councils, architects and applicants, and design innovation.
The introduction of SEPP 65 over a decade ago has already led to a big improvement in apartment design.
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Image: The Gantry by Bates Smart, photo by Brett Boardman