Home New South Wales NSW planning reforms set to unlock new social and affordable housing

NSW planning reforms set to unlock new social and affordable housing

  • June 21, 2023
  • by Property Australia
NSW Premier Chris Minns

The New South Wales Government has released new planning reforms aimed at boosting the supply of affordable and social housing. 

The NSW Government will improve the planning system to incentivise residential housing developers that include at least 15 per cent affordable housing in their plans.

Housing developments with a capital investment value over $75 million, which allocate a minimum of 15 per cent of the total gross floor area to affordable housing, will gain access to the State Significant Development (SSD) planning approval pathway.

These developments will also gain access to a 30 per cent floor space ratio boost, and a height bonus of 30 per cent above local environment plans.

Established by the former Coalition Government, the existing SSD pathway sees proposals assessed by the Department of Planning and Environment.

The SSD pathway often allows faster planning decisions, providing certainty sooner to investors and communities.

Applications made through the SSD pathway must still meet rigorous checks and balances and the SSD process does not override local government decisions about where housing is permissible.

Premier Chriss Minns said the government is looking at ways to help address the housing supply crisis. 

“These reforms will provide more homes and more affordable housing in places where people want to live,” he said.

“It is an important step, but we know our work to improve housing supply does not stop here.”

Property Council’s Acting NSW Executive Director Anita Hugo said the measure would boost overall housing supply in an incredibly tight market.

“The government’s new planning rules are a big endorsement of the density agenda and will play an important role in addressing our housing affordability crisis,” Ms Hugo said.

“It’s good to see the Minns Government has rejected inclusionary zoning and embraced significant GFA and height bonuses, which will ultimately grow the housing pie rather than cut it up.”

Ms Hugo said it was vital government resource the department to deliver timely assessment of projects.

“The change to planning rules will see a positive increase in applications so government should ensure that projects that apply under the SSD pathway don’t become stuck in the system by directing more resources to speedy assessment.”

Ms Hugo said the government should consider a range of other planning measures to deliver on our commitments under the National Housing Accord.

“Under the National Housing Accord, we’ve been tasked with delivering a massive 314,000 new homes over the next five years,” she said.

“Prioritising measures which enable industry to deliver more density is exactly the approach we need from this new government.

“To accelerate supply and truly tackle this housing crisis, the NSW Government should create a new planning instrument to support delivery of sustainable development around key transport hubs.

“The previous government did an admirable job providing growth-enabling infrastructure such as metros and light rail, but more needs to be done to deliver on the housing potential of these investments.

“A specific Transport Oriented Development SEPP would provide the perfect mechanism for Government to release greater uplift around transport stations across Greater Sydney and the regions.”

The NSW Government also announced new reforms to provide the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) with an expanded SSD approval pathway for projects with more than 75 homes or more than $30 million capital investment.

In addition, Landcom will have access to the same pathway where any project it develops contains at least 50 per cent affordable housing.

Ms Hugo said the reform was another welcome common-sense change to planning rules. 

“Government’s own property development agencies experience the same frustrations with the local planning system as private developers – so it’s good to see the government taking action to improve access to state approval pathways and expand self-assessment of simple projects,” she said.