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Better apartments


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 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 SEPP 65’s design principles to the design of new apartments.

SEPP 65 and the Apartment Design Guide apply to:

  • residential flat buildings
  • mixed use development with a residential component
  • shop top housing
  • that are 3 of more storeys and have 4 or more dwelling
  • 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, SEPP 65 does not apply to a boarding house or a serviced apartment.

SEPP 65 Design Review Panels

SEPP 65 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 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, 394 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. 

For more information, call 1300 305 695.