A NSW Government website

Better apartments

Design of residential apartment development

The NSW Government promotes better apartment design across NSW through Chapter 4 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021.

On 14 December 2023, the NSW Government consolidated the provisions of State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 – Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development (SEPP 65) into the Housing SEPP and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 (the Regulation).

The process of consolidation does not affect the operations of the provisions or the Apartment Design Guide.

This policy aims to deliver better living environments for residents choosing this form of housing, and to enhance our streetscapes and our neighbourhoods across the state.

It does this by establishing a consistent approach to the design of apartments and the way they are assessed by councils.

The Apartment Design Guide explains how to apply the design principles located in Schedule 9 of the Housing SEPP to the design of new apartments.

Chapter 4 of the Housing SEPP and the Apartment Design Guide apply to:

  • residential flat buildings
  • mixed use development with a residential component
  • shop top housing
  • that are 3 or more storeys and have 4 or more dwellings
  • where the building is a new apartment building, substantial redevelopment or refurbishment of an existing building, or conversion of an existing building.

Unless a local environmental plan states otherwise, Chapter 4 of the Housing SEPP does not apply to a boarding house or a serviced apartment.

Design review panels

The regulation contains arrangements for design review panels, which can advise on whether an apartment development meets the design principles and, if not, make recommendations on compliance and alternatives.

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 (PDF, 395 KB). Further advice on how to establish, manage and participate in a design review panel convened by a local council can be found in the Local Government Design Review Panel Manual. This manual also clarifies the relationship of design review to assessment generally and to planning panels in particular.