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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code (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).


Low rise housing helps housing affordability by providing smaller homes on smaller lots that still provide all the amenities of a single dwelling and can accommodate a wide variety of lifestyles and needs, including growing families or empty nesters


Low rise housing as complying development is only allowed in R1, R2, R3 and RU5 zones where it is already permitted under a council's Local Environmental Plan (LEP).


A development proposal must meet all of the development standards in the Code and the Design Criteria in the supporting Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for complying development.


After close to three years of consultation, the Code commenced on 6 July 2018 in many council areas across the State.


Read the Code

Independent review and temporary deferral

Following the release of the Code in July 2018, a temporary deferral was granted to 49 councils until 1 July 2019. For the City of Ryde, a deferral was granted until 1 July 2020 based on advice from the Greater Sydney Commission.


The Code is already working well in 78 council areas across the State, and some councils granted a temporary deferral have used that time successfully to amend their local planning controls to prepare for the Code. A further four councils are now ready for the Code to commence on 1 July 2019.


The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces has requested an independent review to assess progress on the Code to date, identify impediments to the Code’s delivery in deferred areas, and make recommendations on the appropriate pathway forward to finalise the Code’s implementation.


Professor Roberta Ryan commenced the independent review in mid-June and is expected to provide her report by the end of July. Professor Ryan will assess published council positions on the Code and consult with peak stakeholder groups including Local Government NSW.


To allow the review to take place, there will be a further extension of the deferral of the Code in 45 councils until 31 October 2019.


Pending the recommendations of the review, the deferral means that in the deferred council areas landowners will not be able to use the Code to lodge a complying development application for dual occupancies, manor houses or terraces until 1 November 2019 (or 1 July 2020 in the City of Ryde). It also means that during the deferral period, a council’s local planning controls will continue to apply and landowners may lodge a development application for a dual occupancy or multi dwelling housing if these forms of housing are allowed under the relevant council LEP.


The following council areas have been temporarily deferred from the Code until 31 October 2019:

  • Bathurst Regional
  • Bayside
  • Bellingen
  • Blue Mountains
  • Burwood
  • Byron
  • Camden
  • City of Campbelltown
  • City of Canada Bay
  • Canterbury-Bankstown
  • Central Coast
  • City of Coffs Harbour
  • Cumberland
  • Georges River
  • City of Hawkesbury
  • Hilltops
  • Hornsby
  • Hunter’s Hill
  • Inner West
  • Kiama
  • City of Liverpool
  • Mid–Coast
  • Mid–Western Regional
  • Moree Plains
  • Mosman
  • Northern Beaches
  • City of Parramatta
  • Penrith City
  • City of Randwick
  • City of Shellharbour
  • City of Shoalhaven
  • Snowy Monaro
  • Strathfield
  • Sutherland Shire
  • City of Sydney
  • Tamworth Regional
  • The Hills Shire
  • Tweed
  • Upper Lachlan Shire
  • City of Willoughby
  • Wingecarribee Shire
  • Wollondilly
  • City of Wollongong
  • Woollahra
  • Yass Valley.


The City of Ryde Council is deferred until 1 July 2020.


The Code will commence in the Armidale Regional, Ballina Shire, Lane Cove and Narromine Shire council areas on 1 July 2019.


The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 Part 3B Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code is available at the Legislation NSW website:


Read the Code

Benefits of the Code

The benefits of the 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 two 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.


Frequently Asked Questions

The Department has prepared three lists of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) available to view or download as PDFs:

Page last updated: 28/06/2019