In a bid to boost housing supply, the NSW Government has announced changes to planning laws that will see a number of low and mid-rise buildings – including terraces, townhouses and small apartment blocks – able to be developed in areas where they are currently banned.

Government estimates indicate that 112,000 new homes could be created across Greater Sydney, as well as the Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra-Shoalhaven regions, nearly a third of the homes required to be built in the state by 2029.

As opposed to Councils having their own regulations regarding zoning rules, the Minns Government has intervened in order to increase supply.  Just two of Sydney’s 32 local environment plans (LEPs) allow for low-density residential, while 60 percent of Sydney LEPs do not allow for residential unit blocks. 

The proposal by the state government will see duplexes permitted to be developed on all R2 low-density residential zones, while mid-rise apartment blocks in close proximity to public transport and retail centres in R3 medium-density zones will now be approved.

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

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

“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.”

Changes will be made to the once contentious SEPP or State Environmental Planning Policy, that will encourage councils to include low and mid rise buildings into their own planning rules. 

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

“We already have great examples of these types of homes. Sydney has grown using these housing types. Look at homes in Wollstonecraft, Waverton, Erskineville, parts of Wollongong or Newcastle. They’re great places to live, we just need more of them.”

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