The NSW Government's new Design and Place SEPP, which has already received praise from the Australian Institute of Architects, aims to create healthier communities and an increased number of housing choices for residents of the state.

In a bid to ensure sustainable development is at the top of the list for the future of NSW housing, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, believes the new policy will reshape many of the places we live in.  

“This policy will allow designers to think outside the box and support innovation and creativity when building new homes, suburbs and cities. Great places aren’t always the product of rules and regulation, they are the result of place based design that puts communities at their heart,” he says.

“This principles-based policy is an important step in defining what matters and how through good processes and wiser decision making we can build a beautiful and prosperous future.”

The new SEPP which is currently still in draft status, is currently on public display. Key benefits of the draft Design and Place SEPP include:

  • Greater housing diversity and choice, including provisions for flexible layouts for families, space to work or study, adequate sunlight, more storage and usable balconies
  • Homes that are more comfortable in both winter and summer and are cost effective to heat and cool
  • More, and better quality parks within reach no matter if you live in an apartment or new greenfield suburb
  • Greater permeability in new subdivisions that make it easier to walk or cycle to key destinations
  • Beautiful and productive high streets and centres that are better for business
  • Commercial buildings that operate at net zero, from day one of coming online.

NSW Government Architect, Abbie Galvin, says the proposed changes to the Apartment Design Guide and new Urban Design Guide aim to respond to the changing needs of state residents, in particular those with families and residents who currently utilise a hybrid work cycle between home and the office.

“During the pandemic we’ve seen our homes and apartments become schools, offices and gyms, and many of us have enjoyed walking or cycling more in our neighbourhoods. This timely policy seeks to reflect our new way of living,” she says.

“There'll be quality apartments with outdoor space and plenty of room for growing families and friends. There’ll be quality streets, public spaces and neighbourhoods that are cool and connected. Places where people love to live.”

The NSW Government has worked in conjunction with industry, local government and environmental groups throughout the development of the SEPP, including regular policy working groups. The government insists the policy is still being refined, and will continue to work with these groups and stakeholders until all parties are satisfied with its contents.

The draft Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy includes updates to the Apartment Design Guide, The Building Sustainability Index (BASIX), a new Urban Development Guide and Design Review Manual.

The draft SEPP is on public exhibition from 10 December 2021 until 28 February 2022.

For further information on the Design and Place SEPP, visit