NSW Department of Planning and Environment

The Low Rise Housing Diversity Code

The Low Rise Housing Diversity Code (Code) – formerly the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code – facilitates a diverse range of housing. The Code allows well designed dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces (up to two storeys) to be carried out under a fast track complying development approval.

A complying development approval can be issued within 20 days if the proposal complies with all the relevant requirements in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP).

The Low Rise Housing Diversity Code and the Low Rise Housing Diversity Design Guide address housing choice by encouraging more variety in the form of dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces.

Good housing design goes beyond the look of a building and its architectural style - it can add social, economic and environmental value and can assist to create robust neighbourhoods and communities that are fit for future challenges and change.

Dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces built as complying development are only allowed in R1, R2, R3 and RU5 zones where this type of housing is already permitted under a council's Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

Development must meet all of the development standards in the Code and the Design Criteria in the Low Rise Housing Diversity Design Guide for complying development.

The Code is currently operating in all local government areas across NSW.

Read the Code

Benefits of the Low Rise Housing Diversity Code

The Code provides for housing types that are an alternative to traditional freestanding houses and apartments. It increases the diversity of housing available giving people choice and catering for changing demographics.

Typically, it requires less land area and is more sustainable for growing families, singles and empty nesters. Dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces also improve housing affordability by providing smaller homes on smaller lots that still provide the amenities of a single dwelling. Terraces, dual occupancies and manor houses can provide private open space, in most cases at ground level, which allows families to socialise, play, garden and exercise in their own home.

The Code promotes faster housing approvals saving homeowners time and money. The Code and the accompanying Design Guide ensure that amenity, privacy and design is considered and incorporated into developments standards, as well as ensuring a consistent approach to good design. To help maintain local character of neighbourhoods the Code sets a two-storey height limit.


Icon of a house.Encourage good quality design

The Design Guide provides practical guidance to promote good quality, well-designed and sustainable homes that respond appropriately to the character of the area, landscape setting and surrounding built form.


Icon of a dual occupancy house.Promote housing choice and diversity

The Code promotes housing diversity by providing a variety of housing types as complying development. Terraces, manor houses and dual occupancies offer an alternative to freestanding homes and apartments, allowing for greater choice.


Icon of a person with a construction helmet on their head.Increase in housing supply

The Code will facilitate faster housing supply through a fast-tracked complying development process. This will allow the NSW Government and councils to meet their housing targets to accommodate our rapidly growing population.


Icon of a nuclear family.Create liveable and desirable communities

The Code will promote more liveable and desirable communities through good building design. It highlights the importance of private open space and vegetation as essential features for future homes.



NSW Government’s response to the Independent Review

The NSW Government remains committed to delivering more diverse housing to meet the needs of a growing and changing population. It is also committed to promoting more ‘missing middle’ development, such as low-rise dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces through a strategically led planning system.

An Independent Review of the Code in 2019 identified strong support for more housing diversity, such as the ‘missing middle’-type housing that the Code seeks to provide. The report can be read below:

Minor amendments to the Code were made on 1 July 2020 in response to the recommendations of the Independent Review and stakeholder feedback.

Changes include:

  • Renaming the Low Rise Medium Density Code the Low Rise Housing Diversity Code to better reflect the diverse housing types contained in the Code
  • Providing an opportunity for councils to better target the Code’s application by allowing councils to set a minimum lot size for Manor Houses and Terraces in LEPs
  • Ensuring the Code does not apply to unsewered land
  • Tracking the uptake of the Code via the Planning Portal from 1 July 2020.

Amendments to the Code have been made to clarify the intent and operation of the Code as well as provide certainty for councils, developers and the community, and ensure that any changes made to Council Local Environmental Plans will have the desired effect.

In line with stakeholder feedback, Clause 3B.15 (Minimum Landscaped Area) has been amended for it to be applied in response to community expectations. The amendments to Clause 3B.15 can be found on the Legislation NSW website.

Frequently asked questions

The department has prepared three lists of frequently asked questions available to view or download as PDFs:

Page last updated: 03/11/2022