The NSW Government’s newly proposed Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is centred around creating more beautiful buildings, better public spaces and greener suburbs.

A significant left turn in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has set about encouraging greater innovation and design flexibility, that will invigorate areas in both the metropolitan setting and within regional communities.

Minister for planning and public spaces Rob Stokes says the proposal represents a rare opportunity to re-shape the look and feel of precincts around the state.

“The proposed policy helps shift our thinking away from only designing beautiful buildings to designing beautiful neighbourhoods,” he says.

“Under the proposal, new developments will now have to show how they respond and contribute to the surrounding area. We want to create places that have beauty and character; that are green, liveable and bring people together with access to open space and active transport connections.”

Stokes goes on to say that the policy is beneficial for both the general public and developers.

“This policy will allow for innovation and creativity by giving designers and planners the ability to think outside the box so that good design isn’t stifled by prescriptive one-size-fits-all regulations.

“It will also set expectations for developers early on, providing more consistency, clarity and certainty which will help speed up the planning processes for good development.”

Overseen by NSW Government architect Abbie Galvin, the proposed changes to the Design and Place SEPP will prioritise healthy places for people, community and country. Galvin says that the changes will allow for careful planning and acknowledgement of the indigenous history within new environments.

“Design is about people, our shared history and our future. This policy will help integrate the things we value about the design of our local communities and our cities.

“It is about including considerations like character, heritage, quality public spaces, thriving local areas that we can access easily, tree-lined walkable streets, parks, environmentally sensitive buildings and spaces into policy that’s easily understood.”

As well as creating green and accessible communities in a post-pandemic environment, the proposed Design and Place SEPP will allow for greater housing diversity including better apartments for families and development that minimises energy use and carbon footprint.

The Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the Design and Place SEPP is now on public exhibition for six weeks until March 31. Further consultation will occur in late 2021. The SEPP is expected to be finalised in late 2021 or early 2022.

For more information and to submit feedback, visit the Design and Place SEPP.