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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (ARHSEPP) was introduced on 31 July 2009. The policy’s intent is to facilitate the increased supply and diversity of affordable rental and social housing in NSW.


The ARHSEPP covers housing types including in-fill affordable housing, along with secondary dwellings (granny flats), boarding houses, group homes, social housing and supportive accommodation. 


On 18 December 2020, changes to the ARHSEPP were made as the first phase of amendments proposed to the NSW Government’s housing-relating policies exhibited as part of the proposed new Housing SEPP.


The changes will help facilitate the delivery of social and affordable housing by NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), clarify the application of provisions contained in Part 3 regarding the loss of low rental affordable housing, and enable councils to set the maximum size of secondary dwellings in rural zones.


On 9 April 2021, further changes were made to the ARHSEPP to introduce provisions for the new Short-term Rental Accommodation (STRA) policy.

The new policy includes:

  • a new definition for STRA, hosted STRA and non-hosted STRA;
  • an exempt development pathway for hosted and non-hosted STRA, including a 180 day limit restriction for non-hosted STRA based on location;
  • an exemption of bookings of 21 consecutive days or more from the proposed day limits for non-hosted STRA;
  • new fire safety standards for dwellings used for STRA and associated penalty notice offences for non-compliance; and
  • a new Government-run online STRA Register.


More details regarding the new statewide policy can be found on the Short-term Rental Accommodation webpage.


Approval of developments under the ARHSEPP

Your local council or an accredited certifier can issue approval for a secondary dwelling as complying development if it meets specific criteria. The development standards for secondary dwellings as complying development are in Schedule 1 of the ARHSEPP.


Most other forms of development under the ARHSEPP need approval from the relevant consent authority (usually the local council). Because local planning controls can differ between council areas your local council should be the first point of contact for further information.

Social housing provisions for LAHC and in-fill affordable housing development

Changes have been made to the ARHSEPP to help facilitate development carried out by LAHC and its developer partners by amending provisions for in-fill affordable housing development and LAHC’s self-assessment provisions. These include:

  • Increasing the maximum number of dwellings that LAHC can self-assess on a single site from 20 to 60 with a maximum height of 8.5m. This will help facilitate LAHC’s current delivery model, which includes a mixture of private, affordable and social housing in a single development.
  • Inclusion of a new requirement for LAHC to consider its design guidelines ‘Good design for social housing’, dated September 2020 and ‘Land and Housing Corporation Dwelling Requirements’ dated September 2020 when self-assessing development proposals.
  • Allowing LAHC to self-assess manor house and multi dwelling housing (terraces), including the requirement that they must consider the provisions contained in Part 3B Low Rise Housing Diversity Code of the Codes SEPP.
  • Expansion of the range of residential accommodation dwelling types that attract a density bonus under the in-fill affordable housing provisions to include, manor houses and multi dwelling houses (terraces).
  • Inclusion of a new requirement that a consent authority must not consent to in-fill affordable housing development for the purpose of manor houses and multi dwelling houses (terraces) unless it has taken into consideration the department’s Low Rise Housing Diversity Design Guide.
  • Expansion of the areas where the in-fill affordable housing provisions apply to include the Central Coast, Wollongong and Newcastle regions as well as Greater Sydney to better capture ‘accessible areas’ across the State.
  • The requirement for all development under the in-fill affordable housing provisions to deliver a minimum 20 per cent of gross floor area as affordable housing.


The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 has also been amended to require that development applications (DAs) lodged for manor house and multi dwelling housing (terraces) development are accompanied by a statement prepared by a qualified designer or a person accredited as a building designer by the Building Designers Association of Australia that:

  1. verifies that the designer or person designed, or directed the design of, the development, and
  2. addresses how the design is consistent with the relevant design criteria set out in the Low Rise Housing Diversity Design Guide.


The amended provisions in the ARHSEPP and EP&A Regulation commenced on 1 February 2021.

Retention of existing affordable rental housing under Part 3 of the ARHSEPP

Part 3 of the ARHSEPP provides for the retention of existing affordable rental housing stock. Development applications (DA) that propose to demolish, alter or add, change the use of, or strata subdivide existing low cost rental dwellings may require a contribution towards the provision of alternative affordable housing.


Changes have been made to Part 3 of the ARHSEPP to allow councils to levy monetary contributions to offset the loss of dwellings that were low-rental at any time within the five years preceding the lodgement of a DA. Applicants will be responsible for demonstrating that a building which is proposed to be demolished, altered or strata subdivided did not contain low-rental dwellings at the relevant time.


The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 was also amended to ensure this evidence or information is provided with DAs lodged to which this part of the ARHSEPP applies.


The amended provisions in Part 3 of the ARHSEPP and EP&A Regulation will commence on 1 February 2021. 


To find out what types of development trigger this requirement refer to Part 3 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009, and for more information about contributions refer to the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP – Guidelines for Retention of Existing Affordable Rental Housing, October 2009.


The department’s Online Assessment Tool for determining contributions payable under Part 3 of the ARHSEPP is currently being upgraded. In the meantime, data about the median rental and sales prices for developments is in the rental and sales data by local government area 2015 06 to 2017 03 (xlsx 38.3 KB) which can be used in calculations. This data is drawn from the Department of Family and Community Services Housing Office Rent and Sales Report. More information on the report is in the Explanatory notes (PDF, 167 KB).


To ask a question about Part 3 of the ARHSEPP, please contact the Housing Policy team via ServiceFirst on 1300 305 695.





More information

For more information you can read the following fact sheets:


Additionally, you can send an email to the Housing Policy team or call 02 8289 6701.

Page last updated: 09/04/2021