The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code allows one and two storey dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces to be carried out under a fast track complying development approval. Complying development approval can be issued within 20 days if the application complies with all the relevant requirements in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.
Low rise medium density 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 medium density housing as complying development is only allowed where medium density development is already permitted under a council’s local environmental plan.
Since 2015, the NSW Government has consulted widely with the community, industry and councils about the Code. Following an announcement in April 2018, a three month deferral was put in place to allow the Department time to run training sessions with councils and industry on the Code.
Many councils commenced the implementation of the Code on 6 July 2018. For councils that have requested additional time, a deferral has been granted until 1 July 2019.
In the deferred council areas, applicants cannot use the Code or lodge development applications for manor houses or terraces until 1 July 2019.
The following 50 LGAs have been deferred until 1 July 2019:
For all other local government areas, the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code commenced on 6 July 2018.
The new Code 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:
The Department has prepared three lists of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) available to view or download as PDFs:
FAQs Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code and Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for complying development (PDF, 840 KB)
The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code is supported by the Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for complying development (Pdf, 37,720 KB).
The 'Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for complying development' has been developed in close consultation with councils, industry and the community to ensure good design outcomes are achieved for medium density housing.
The design guide for complying development has been developed in partnership with the Government Architect’s Office and will ensure a consistent approach to the design and delivery of quality Medium Density Housing in communities right across NSW. The 'Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for complying development' aims to improve the design of medium density housing by addressing key considerations, including; layout, landscaping, private open space, light, natural ventilation and privacy.
An applicant can now also lodge a Development Application (DA) for manor houses and terraces where council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) permits medium density housing.
The Department has prepared a design guide for DAs, the Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for development applications (Pdf, 11,823 KB) to assist councils when assessing manor houses and terraces as a DA until they develop their Development Control Plan (DCP). This Design Guide for DAs will provide councils with best practice controls and design standards to ensure developments are well designed and will fit into the local character of the area.
A planning circular PS 18–007 has been released (11 July, 2018) to provide guidance to councils, applicants and practitioners on how and where the Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for Development Applications (DAs) applies.
Currently, most new homes built in NSW tend to fall into two categories; traditional free - standing houses and apartments. Medium Density Housing provides an alternative, as a more affordable housing choice.
The benefits of the new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code include:
Medium Density Housing can enable families to have a greater choice about where they'd like to retire. For the Jabbours (watch the video below), building a dual occupancy means that they can choose to live in the same neighbourhood, that they grew up in.
In 2015, we released the Discussion Paper: Options for low rise medium density housing as complying development, which sought feedback on what would be required for medium density housing types to be assessed as complying development.
The aim is to make approvals for these housing types faster and more straightforward, providing greater housing supply and choice including more affordable housing.
The exhibition of the draft Medium Density Design Guide and Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) commenced on 12 October until 23 December 2016. The draft Design Guide and EIE proposed changes to allow the construction and concurrent subdivision of dual occupancies, multi dwelling housing (terraces) and manor houses as Complying Development.
The Government Architect’s Office ran a 'Missing Middle Design Competition’ to promote and test the controls in the draft Design Guide.
The outcomes of the design competition and stakeholder feedback were used, to shape and tailor the controls in the final design guides: the 'Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for development applications' and the 'Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code Design Guide for complying development'.
NSW Government Architect, Peter Poulet, discusses key elements of a well designed home.
Hear from the winners of the design competition about the great benefits of medium density housing.
Page last updated: 15/08/2018