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Secondary dwellings

A secondary dwelling, or granny flat, is a self-contained dwelling located within, attached to, or separate from another dwelling on the same site.

Secondary dwellings are permitted in residential zones (R1, R2, R3, R4, and R5). They may also be permitted in other zones under a council’s local environmental plan.

A lot on which a secondary dwelling is constructed cannot be subdivided. The development of a secondary dwelling can only result in there being one principal dwelling and one secondary dwelling on the site.

Planning provisions for secondary dwellings were recently transferred from the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009, to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021 (Housing SEPP).

Frequently asked questions

Can I build a secondary dwelling and principal dwelling at the same time?

The Housing SEPP provides for a new principal and secondary dwelling to be approved under a single complying development certificate. To be approved as complying development, the secondary dwelling must meet the requirements set out in the Housing SEPP and the principal dwelling must meet the standards set out in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

What are the minimum controls required for a secondary dwelling under the Housing SEPP?

A secondary dwelling may be built with consent or as complying development, depending on meeting certain requirements including lot size and floor area outlined in the Housing SEPP.

For the development to be approved through complying development, it must meet the provisions contained in Schedule 1 of the Housing SEPP.

Can I construct a secondary dwelling on a lot that has an area of less than 450 m2?

One of the requirements for secondary dwelling development to be carried out as complying development is that it is on a lot that has an area of at least 450 square metres.

If the land has an area less than 450 square metres, the development cannot be carried out as complying development regardless of whether it is attached to the principal dwelling. An exception to this is where a secondary dwelling is located entirely within an existing dwelling house.

If your proposal does not satisfy all the requirements for complying development, it may still be possible to lodge a development application for a secondary dwelling with your local council.

Do I need to provide additional parking for a secondary dwelling?

The Housing SEPP does not require any additional parking for a secondary dwelling. You should check the requirements of any existing development consent and talk to your local council if your secondary dwelling proposal will involve the removal of existing on-site car parking.

What are the new rules for secondary dwellings in rural zones?

The Housing SEPP added the optional clause 5.5 of the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan to some local environmental plans. Optional clause 5.5 sets out controls for maximum floor area and distance between a principal and secondary dwelling for secondary dwellings in a rural zone.

The inclusion of clause 5.5 in certain local environmental plans responds in each case to a decision of the relevant local council.

To find out whether you are impacted by this change, check your local environmental plan to see what the relevant controls are for your area.

Can the development standards under clause 5.5 of the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan be varied using clause 4.6 of that instrument?

No. Clause 4.6(8) of the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan applies to clause 5.5.

What changes have been made to secondary dwellings since the Housing SEPP was made?

The Site Requirements standards for secondary dwellings that are complying development have been amended. The amendments clarify that the maximum floor area calculations includes the floor area of the principal dwelling, secondary dwelling and any carport, garage, balcony, deck, patio, pergola, terrace or verandah attached to either dwelling.

For more information about complying development, visit the NSW Planning Portal, email [email protected] or phone 02 8289 6701.