The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code and Subdivisions Code

On 6 April 2018, the State Government revealed changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 that will broaden the scope of complying development in New South Wales. These changes are set to commence on 6 July 2018.

The NSW government have created a short video that provides an overview of the changes here:


What do the new changes actually do?

The changes introduce the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code and an amended Subdivisions Code. These new codes:

  • allow people to apply for a complying development certificate for both the building and subsequent subdivision of dual occupancies, manor houses and multi-dwelling housing (terraces);
  • require that any complying development certificate application relating to a dual occupancy, manor house or multi dwelling housing (terraces) be accompanied by a statement from an architect or accredited building designer that:
    • verifies that person designed, or directed the design of, the development; and
    • addresses how the design is consistent with the design criteria in the Medium Density Design Guide,
  • require a certifying authority that issues a complying development certificate for development on bush fire prone land to send a copy of any required certification to the NSW Rural Fire Service (for example, a certification that the development is not in a specific bush fire attack level).

What are the details of the key changes?

Some of the key changes include:

  • new and amended definitions in local environmental plans for manor house, multi dwelling housing, multi dwelling housing (terraces) and residential flat buildings. Additions and changes are underlined:

manor house means a building containing 3 or 4 dwellings, where: (a) each dwelling is attached to another dwelling by a common wall or floor, and (b) at least 1 dwelling is partially or wholly located above another dwelling, and (c) the building contains no more than 2 storeys (excluding any basement). 

multi dwelling housing means 3 or more dwellings (whether attached or detached) on one lot of land where: (a) each dwelling has access at ground level, and (b) no part of a dwelling is above any part of any other dwelling, and includes multi dwelling housing (terraces).

multi dwelling housing (terraces) means multi dwelling housing where all dwellings are attached and face, and are generally aligned along, 1 or more public roads. Note. Multi dwelling housing (terraces) are a type of multi dwelling housing—see the definition of that term in this Dictionary.

residential flat building means a building containing 3 or more dwellings and includes manor houses, but does not include an attached dwelling or multi dwelling housing.

  • amendments to various local environmental plans to permit manor houses in various zones.
  • a separate definition for gross floor area for development that falls under the Housing Code, or Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code. For this type of development, gross floor area:

means the sum of the floor area of each floor of a building measured from the internal face of external walls, or from the internal face of walls separating the building from any other building, measured at a height of 1.4m above the floor, and includes habitable rooms in a basement or an attic, but excludes the following:

(a) any storage area, vehicular access area, loading area, garbage area or services located in a basement,

(b) 1 car parking space per dwelling (including access to the parking space),

(c) any terrace or balcony with outer walls less than 1.4m high,

(d) voids above a floor at the level of a storey or storey above,

(e) any common area intended to be used by occupants of the building to access dwellings on higher or lower storeys of the building such as a stairwell or lift shaft.

  • a range of development standards for development under the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code and an amended Subdivisions Code. This includes development standards for the built form itself, landscaping, amenity, bush fire prone land, land affected by floods, land near the Sliding Springs Observatory, and lot requirements for subdivisions.
  • the submission requirements for complying development applications in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2010 have been updated to require that a Design Verification Statement by an architect or accredited building designer is lodged with an application for complying development. This statement must verify that the issuer designed, or directed the design of, the development, and must address how the design is consistent with the relevant design criteria set out in the Medium Density Design Guide.
  • development standards for associated work like earthworks, retaining walls, drainage, work to protect adjoining walls and work to protect trees.
  • replacement of the Subdivisions Code to allow for:
    • strata subdivision of dual occupancy, manor house or multi dwelling housing (terraces) for which a complying development certificate has been issued under the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code;
    • torrens title subdivision of dual occupancy or multi dwelling housing (terraces) for which a complying development certificate has been issued under the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code; and
    • subdivision certificates to be issued by an accredited certifier for such subdivisions.
  • a range of standard conditions to be attached to complying development certificates under the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code and Subdivisions Code.

Where can I go for more information?

Click here to access the proposed amendments.

Click here to read more about the changes on the Department of Planning website.

Click here to access the Medium Density Design Guide.



If you would like legal assistance, you can contact Alyce Kliese directly by clicking here.

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Alyce is a civil engineer and a practicing lawyer, who has a desire to share her insights on the legal and practical realities of the development industry.

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