Home Property Australia NSW Govt to fast-track terraces, townhouses and low-rise apartments

NSW Govt to fast-track terraces, townhouses and low-rise apartments

  • November 29, 2023
  • by Property Australia
NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully

The NSW Government is set to compel councils to overturn longstanding bans on building terraces, townhouses and two-storey apartment blocks to increase urban density in response to the escalating housing crisis.

The reforms open the door for the industry to construct an estimated 112,000 new homes in the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra. This amounts to 30 per cent of the 377,000 new homes targeted by NSW under its Housing Accord by 2029.

Currently, individual local councils have their own regulations dictating the types of homes permissible in their areas.

In October, the government identified a significant gap in density approval, with only two out of 32 Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) allowing terraces and 1 to 2-storey unit blocks under R2 zoning—merely six per cent of LEPs across Sydney.

R2 zoning typically covers low-density housing, commonly called the missing middle. 

Sixty per cent of R3 zones in Sydney, where multi-dwelling housing is suitable and should be encouraged, currently prohibit residential flat buildings of any size, according to the government.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said Sydney is one of the least dense cities in the world but fewer than half of councils allow for low-rise and mid-rise residential buildings in areas zoned for such homes.

“We’re confronting a housing crisis so we need to change the way we plan for more housing, we can’t keep building out we need to create capacity for more infill, with more diverse types of homes,” he said.

“Diversity of housing allows people to stay in their communities and neighbourhoods through different stages of their life, with family and friends able to live nearby. More housing choice means more options for everyone – renters, families, empty nesters. 

“Density done well means townhouses, apartments and terraces clustered near shops, high streets and parks.”

The Property Council of Australia backed the move, calling it a “sensible change to deliver a broader mix of well-located homes”.

“There is huge untapped potential for density done well in areas already zoned for low and medium density right across Sydney and our regions,” Property Council NSW Executive Director Katie Stevenson said.

“This is the type of housing that people want to live in, especially when it’s close to public transport and town centres.

“This change will bring much needed consistency across council boundaries and ensure housing for young families doesn’t become a political football in the upcoming local government elections.

“Communities can’t stand still in time forever – they must evolve and grow.

“Local councils must move away from the outdated mindset of only considering the needs of existing residents and the vocal minority and start thinking about how best to support young families in their communities looking to rent or buy a home.

“We can create more vibrant communities that protect local character while adding to the diversity of our neighbourhoods at the same time,” she said.

The plans will go on public exhibition for public feedback from next week.