Property developer and equity financing organisation Urban Taskforce is lobbying the NSW Government to consider their two-page ‘Complying Code’ for mid-rise apartments which would see more six to eight-storey apartments built in Sydney and approved at a quicker rate.

Former NSW government architect and planning department CEO, Chris Johnson,  now head of the Urban Taskforce, says that Parisian-style mid-rise apartments, designed only by architects, are the best way to facilitate Sydney’s population growth and densification.

He also says that his Complying Code would speed up the renewal of Sydney’s large areas of 1960s walk up flats now reaching their use-by date, giving confidence to investors about potential yields of these renewals.

Cascada apartments at Sylvania blend well with Australian native trees. Image: Urban Taskforce

The Urban Taskforce’s Complying Code for mid-rise apartments was guided by Peter Smith (Smith and Tzannes Architects) and architect Nick Turner and would require qualified architects to design the building. It also consists of rules for setbacks, heights, landscape, parking, apartment size, solar access and the need for design reviews—much like the NSW SEPP65 currently in place.

The real crux of Johnson’s argument is that the current planning approval system for mid-rises is too slow and biased towards low-rise detached houses.  The average 46 weeks to approve mid-rise buildings, he says, wouldn’t be necessary if an architect’s design met the criteria of the Complying Code.

Parisian mid-rise apartment buildings are very ‘human scale’ oriented and have consistent street edge scale of 6 to 8 storey horizontal building. Image: Write Shoot Cut.

Currently NSW councils offer 10 day planning approvals to two storey houses that are designed according to the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) ‘Housing Code’. Johnson believes that the development industry should be afforded the same time-frame approval consistency for mid-rise apartments:

“With Sydney’s projected population growth requiring a doubling of the number of homes over the next 50 years, we must encourage more mid-rise apartments as a major component of housing such large growth,” he says.

“We cannot rely only on 2 storey houses so a mid-rise apartment code with 30 day approvals will be needed.

“Without a code like the one we have proposed the street by street battles over every project will frustrate the development industry and leave the community with no certainty.”

He proposes that the Complying Code would facilitate the creation of residential precincts much like those found in Paris and Barcelona. Johnson says that not only are six to eight storey apartments family friendly, they also blend well into the Australian landscape because natives, such as Eucalyptus trees, grow to heights similar to an eight storey building.

The two page Complying Code can be viewed here: