A NSW Government website

Diverse and well-located homes

Low- and mid-rise housing

We’re focussed on supporting the development of more housing choice where people want to live.

We want to encourage building a variety of different types of homes in well-located areas within walking distance of transport and close to shops and services.

As we create capacity for more homes, we also want to create beautiful neighbourhoods for our communities. We're committed to supporting the delivery of more housing that is well-designed, sustainable and fits in with the local character of our neighbourhoods.


Discover how low- and mid-rise housing will benefit your neighbourhood.

Low- and mid-rise housing

We're making changes to the planning rules to help encourage the delivery of a range of different housing types.

We need more low- and mid-rise housing to fill the gap between detached homes and high-rise apartment buildings. By delivering more variety in low- and mid-rise housing, we can strike a balance between preserving the character and value of our neighbourhoods while catering to changing community needs.

Our reforms look at a range of opportunities to unlock the supply of low-rise housing like terraces and dual occupancies and mid-rise housing of up to 6-storeys in well-located areas.

Learn more about the benefits of low- and mid-rise housing, including more choice of homes and affordability.

To learn more about the different types of low-rise housing, read the Unpacking low-rise housing fact sheet (PDF, 1.5 MB).

Low- and mid-rise housing policy

The low- and mid-rise housing policy is a key component of the NSW Government’s planning response to the National Housing Accord.

This new reform introduces an amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021, which is expected to deliver 112,000 more homes over the next 5 years. This is a significant step toward achieving the housing accord target of 377,000 new homes by July 2029.

We have listened to community and council feedback on the proposed reforms. We have made changes to the exhibited policy so it doesn’t apply in areas where there is a high-risk from hazards such as flooding or bushfire or where it would be difficult to evacuate people in an emergency. Heritage sites have also been considered and adjustments have been made to preserve local character and heritage buildings.

The changes to the policy will be done in stages, with the first changes starting on 1 July 2024 to align with the start of the National Housing Accord.

Stage 1: Dual occupancies and semi-detached homes

The first stage of the reforms permits dual occupancies and semi-detached homes in the R2 low-density zone across all of NSW. These changes will support metro councils to achieve their housing targets and regional councils to reach their overarching regional NSW housing target.

What are dual occupancies?

Dual occupancies are a common form of housing in Sydney. They comprise 2 houses on a single lot, usually with a front and back yard. They are often known as duplexes or side by side semis. They offer most of the benefits of a traditional freestanding house at a more affordable cost.

Dual occupancies can help us to fix the housing crisis by replacing one existing home with 2 homes to double the potential housing capacity.

From the Government Architect NSW’s Good design for housing map, a good example of a well-designed dual occupancy is Aperture House.

What are semi-detached homes?

A semi-detached home is a side-by-side dual occupancy that has been subdivided down the middle, so each house sits on its own lot. They are often referred to duplexes or semis.

Fraternal Twins is a good example of a well-designed semi-detached development.

Why are dual occupancies and semi-detached homes important?

These types of homes are important to help NSW deliver the housing our communities need. This first stage of changes will provide more opportunity for families who might live on larger lots in suburbs across Sydney and the regions to deliver an additional home or split their property in half to provide a new home for their children or older family members.

Dual occupancies and semi-detached homes are popular types of homes for young families and downsizers alike.

About the changes

From 1 July 2024, dual occupancies and semi-detached homes will be allowed in all R2 low-density residential zones across NSW.

These changes won’t apply to:

  • land with a high risk from natural hazards like bushfire and floods
  • land located close to dangerous goods pipelines and hazardous aircraft noise
  • land that includes a heritage item
  • the Bathurst, Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Wollondilly areas due to bushfire, flooding and evacuation risks. Bathurst has no suitable R2 land.

Learn more about the areas that are excluded in the Policy exclusions fact sheet (PDF, 566 KB).

The complying development pathway available to dual occupancy development under State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 will be temporarily switched off in areas where this development type wasn’t previously allowed.

This will give affected councils the chance to plan for appropriate settings such as lot sizes for dual occupancy developments in their areas. The complying development pathway for dual occupancy development will be reinstated in these locations as part of stage 2 of the reforms. If dual occupancies are already permitted in your area with a complying development pathway, this will stay the same.

Exhibition of the explanation of intended effect

In response to the public consultation held from 15 December 2023 to 23 February 2024, we received nearly 8,000 submissions.

The most common issues raised were concerns about traffic and congestion, the protection of local character and the need for accompanying infrastructure and green spaces.

Find out what stakeholders said and how we listened.

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Frequently asked questions

What is low-rise and mid-rise housing?

Low-rise housing refers to dual occupancies, multi-dwelling housing (townhouses and terraces) and low-rise apartment buildings (including manor houses). Low-rise housing is generally no more than 1–2 storeys. It does not include freestanding single houses.

Mid-rise housing refers to apartment buildings (residential flat buildings) and shop-top housing that are generally between 3 and 6 storeys. Shop-top housing is a building that has shops or businesses on the ground floor and apartments on the floors above.

What is the purpose of the low- and mid-rise housing planning reforms?

The low- and mid-rise reforms allow and facilitate a greater variety of housing types to be built in well-located areas across the Sydney, Central Coast, Illawarra and Hunter regions. The reforms will be done in 2 stages.

In stage 1, dual occupancies and semi-detached dwellings will be permitted in all R2 low-density residential zones across NSW. The policy won’t apply to specific identified areas (see ‘What land is excluded from the policy?’).

In stage 2 (to be announced later in 2024) the policy will be updated to also:

  • introduce the concept of ‘station and town centre precincts’ as the basis for ‘well-located areas’, where density will be encouraged. Particular town centres and stations within Sydney, Central Coast, Illawarra, and the Hunter region will be identified in the SEPP, and town centres will be mapped. An 800 m walking distance from the town centre or station will be where the policy will apply.
  • expand the permissibility of the other low- and mid-rise housing types as follows:
    • Multi-dwelling housing (terraces and townhouses) in station and town centre precincts in zones R1, R2, R3.
    • Low-rise apartment buildings in station and town centre precincts in zones R1 and R2.
    • Mid-rise apartment buildings in station and town centre precincts in zones R3 and R4.
  • facilitate and encourage the above housing types (including for dual occupancies) by introducing new development standards, such as building heights, floor space ratios and minimum lot sizes, within the station and town centre precincts
  • maintain local character and the viability of employment centres by excluding the application of the reforms within the employment/town centres themselves (i.e. the E1, E2, MU1 and SP5 zones) – this maintains detailed strategic planning work many councils have done in these zones and avoids many areas with heritage value
  • exclude land within identified proximity of Botany Industrial Park.

The new settings allowing dual occupancies and semi-detached dwellings will continue, and all policy exclusions introduced in stage 1 will be maintained and apply to stage 2.

Stage 2 will not come into effect until the second half of 2024. This will allow councils time to prepare for the introduction of the policy or progress equivalent important planning work to boost housing supply (see ‘When will the reforms start?').

A list of different zones and their objectives is available at NSW legislation.

When will the reforms start?

Stage 1 of the reforms, which allows dual occupancies and semi-detached dwellings in low density residential zones across NSW, commences on 1 July 2024.

What do you mean by a 'well-located area'?

When we use the term 'well-located area', we mean it is a good place for more housing to be provided. The best areas for more housing are walkable to good public transport, supermarkets, shops, services and amenities. Research shows that a ‘walkable distance’ is around 10 minutes walk or 800 m.

We are using the concept of ‘well-located’ as the basis for identifying suitable locations (around station and town centre precincts) for stage 2 of the low- and mid-rise reforms, to take effect in stage 2 of the reforms.

Being able to develop more low- and mid-rise housing in well-located areas will give more people the opportunity to live closer to where they work and need to regularly go.

What land is excluded from the policy?

The new policy reforms will not apply to certain sensitive areas. These include:

  • high-risk land, including bushfire- and flood-prone land and land identified as coastal wetlands, littoral rainforest or a coastal vulnerability area
  • land located close to dangerous goods pipelines and aircraft noise
  • land in a Transport Oriented Development Area, as defined under chapter 5 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021
  • land that constitutes or contains a heritage item
  • the Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Wollondilly local government areas – there are high-risk hazards that impact these local government areas, including bushfire, flooding and limited evacuation routes
  • the Bathurst local government area – there is no suitable R2 land
  • land in proximity of Botany Industrial Park (commencing from stage 2 only).

The Policy exclusions fact sheet (PDF, 566 KB). further details why these areas have been excluded and explains how you can find out if a property is affected.

What consultation have you done on these reforms?

We publicly exhibited the Explanation of Intended Effect: Changes to create low- and mid-rise housing from 15 December 2023 to 23 February 2024. We received approximately 8,000 submissions.

In May and June 2024, we held individual workshops with all 49 councils that submitted feedback on the exhibited explanation of intended effect. These workshops allowed us to collaborate with the councils and get information on which town centre and station precincts would be suitable for the policy and which areas should be excluded because of potential hazards and risks. Councils provided the department with important data and evidence to assist in the assessment of the town centre and station precincts. Following these consultations, the department developed final policy positions for both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the LMR policy.

On 31 January 2024, held a webinar for councils and other key stakeholders to explain the proposed reforms and address questions clarifying aspects of the draft policy. The webinar attracted 322 participants.

Throughout the development of the policy, we engaged with a wide range of stakeholders in various forums. Stakeholder groups included:

  • councils
  • government agencies such as Sydney Water and Transport for NSW
  • developer peak bodies
  • community groups
  • industry groups.
How do these reforms relate to the existing complying development pathway under the Low-Rise Housing Diversity Code?

The Low-Rise Housing Diversity Code – part of State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 – provides a fast-track planning pathway for low-rise housing types. The code allows well-designed dual-occupancies, manor houses and terraces to proceed under a complying development certificate rather than through a development application process. This fast-tracked pathway is available for these housing types wherever they are permitted.

As part of stage 1 of the low- and mid-rise housing reforms, we need to temporarily ‘switch off’ the complying development pathway in areas where dual occupancies will be newly permitted to avoid unintended outcomes. This applies in the R2 zones in 13 local government areas – Albury, Ballina, Cowra, Hornsby, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Lismore, Liverpool, Mosman, Murray River, Northern Beaches (Warringah Local Environmental Plan), Strathfield and Tamworth.

These councils lack controls for dual occupancies, such as minimum lot sizes. We want to give councils time to consider a minimum lot size for dual occupancies that would apply to complying development in their areas. So stage 1 of the rollout of the reforms will switch off the complying development pathway for dual occupancies in these newly permitted R2 zones in the council areas listed above. This will allow councils to consider minimum lot sizes for dual occupancies that would apply to complying development and to development applications outside ‘well-located’ areas. The Stage 2 reforms will introduce non-refusal standards and controls for dual occupancies in well-located areas.

These councils will have until 1 July 2025 to consider appropriate controls for dual occupancies. The complying pathway can be switched back on at that point.

What are non-refusal standards/development standards?

Non-refusal standards are a type of planning control or development standard that aims to provide consistency for development assessment matters like maximum building height or minimum lot size.

A non-refusal standard overrules a local environmental plan or development control plan standard that is more onerous than the non-refusal standard. If the non-refusal standard is met, the consent authority cannot refuse the development application on that basis, despite the local provisions that may apply. If the local environmental plan or development control plan standard is already more permissive than the non-refusal standard, it will continue to apply.

The non-refusal standards/development standards proposed for stage 2 of the low- and mid-rise housing reforms are designed to enable the development of low- and mid-rise housing in places where they weren’t permitted. The final standards introduced in stage 2 will be based on feedback from councils and other stakeholders.

What happens if a development is proposed in a heritage conservation area or for a listed heritage item?

State and local heritage items and heritage conservation areas are broadly recognised for their unique historical significance. Heritage items and conservation areas also play an important role in preserving the local character of an area and its history. For these reasons, protecting our local heritage is an important development consideration.

The new policy will not apply to individual heritage items but will apply to heritage conservation areas. The proposals will not interfere with any other applicable planning controls, including heritage provisions. Inside heritage conservation areas, these provisions will continue to be a matter councils consider when assessing development applications.

Are there any landscaping requirements in the proposed reforms?

New landscaping provisions relating to tree canopy cover, the provision of deep soil areas and tree planting rates are proposed for stage 2 of the reforms. This new guidance will promote excellent amenity and liveability for residents and environmental benefits.

When the new landscaping guidance comes into effect, it is intended that existing local controls in local environmental plans and development control plans, or in existing state policy such as the Apartment Design Guide, will prevail where a greater greening outcome would be delivered. In the meantime, local council controls will continue to be relevant.

The proposed new landscaping provisions are based on those set out in the department's Greener Neighbourhoods Guide. These provisions balance the need for housing with green coverage.

How do I provide feedback on the reforms?

Community consultation on the reforms has ended. Public exhibition of the proposals ran from 15 December 2023 to 23 February 2024. We thank everyone who made a submission.

For general enquiries on the planning reforms, email [email protected]