In the wake of recent confusion surrounding minimum apartment sizes in the state of NSW, State Planning Minister Rob Stokes has released a statement that could help clarify NSW’s mandatory apartment sizes for the community, councils and industry.

In his statement, Stokes declared the minimum unit sizes (MUS) sizes for studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments to be:

  • 35sqm for studio apartments
  • 50sqm for one bedroom apartments
  • 70sqm for two bedroom apartments
  • 90sqm for three bedroom apartments

These sizes are similar to the MUS Rules of Thumb set out in the State Environment Planning Policy no. 65’s (SEPP65) Residential Flat Design Code (RFDC); however the size for three bedroom apartments has dropped from 95sqm to 90sqm. These are consistent with the proposed amendments to SEPP65 and what will be the new Apartment Design Code (to replace the RFDC).

For some this could clear up the confusion caused in April by NSW Land and Environment Court when it ruled that the widely used MUS Rule of Thumb in the RFDC were not the governing sizes for cases where SEPP65 applied.

Instead, a table in Part 3 of the RFDC which sets out the internal and external areas for nine different types of apartments (MUS Table) was to govern whether a SEPP65 development could be refused by a consent authority for failing to meet a minimum size.  

The ruling decided that the consent authority could refuse a proposed development that failed to meet the MUS Table requirements because Clause 30A(1)(b) of SEPP 65 states that:

(1) A consent authority must not refuse consent to a development application for the carrying out of residential flat development on any of the following grounds:

 (b) apartment area: if the proposed area for each apartment is equal to, or greater than, the recommended internal area and external area for the relevant apartment type set out in Part 3 of the [RFDC]. (EMPHASIS ADDED)

Because the old MUS Rules of Thumb do not incorporate recommended areas for external, as well as internal, the MUS Table was considered the appropriate reference for refusal on Clause30A(1)(b).

SEPP65 is currently under review and Stokes noted that the new Apartment Design Guide will be released shortly.