Posted on May 25, 2011 by
Affordable Housing: New Government returns more planning powers to local communities
The NSW Government has handed back further planning powers to councils. Following recent amendments in relation to Major Projects, State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) Amendment 2011 (Amendment SEPP) requires affordable rental and social housing development to be more consistent with existing local development.
To address perceived abuse of the former policy, in the case of infill residential flat buildings, the requisite component of affordable housing will need to be calculated based on the percentage of gross floor area devoted to that purpose rather than the percentage of dwellings.
Prior to the Amendment SEPP, the effect of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (Affordable Housing SEPP) was that local planning controls could be largely overridden in relation to development such as multi dwelling housing, boarding houses and residential flat buildings in certain areas characterised by single dwellings.
The result has been that development typically uncharacteristic of the local area has been able to occur. Certain development by the Land and Housing Corporation was able to occur without consent and the ordinary public participation requirements under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act).
The main changes are as follows.
- The introduction of a local character test – all new and existing applications will need to be assessed against a consideration of whether the proposal is compatible with the character of the local area.
- The introduction of more stringent public transport criteria in Sydney – boarding houses in Zone R2 Low Density Residential or an equivalent zone, will need to be located close to public transport routes operating seven days a week.
- The introduction of more stringent proximity criteria in Regional NSW – boarding houses in Zone R2 Low Density Residential or an equivalent zone, will need to be located within 400 metres walking distance of land within Zone B2 Local
Centre or Zone B4 Mixed Use or equivalent zones.
- A change in the way that the affordable component of development is expressed – the affordable component of development is now required to be expressed as a percentage of the total floor space rather than as a proportion of the dwellings in the development.
- Increased parking requirements.
- Public notification of development by the Land and Housing Corporation – The Corporation will now be required to notify its development to anyone nominated by the council.
Existing applications lodged before the amendment to the Affordable Housing SEPP commenced may be determined as if the amendment had not been made with two important exceptions. Existing applications must:
- be compatible with the character of the local area, and
- in the case of residential flat buildings, be assessed against the replacement development standard which expresses the requisite affordable component of the development as percentage of the gross floor area of the development used for affordable housing rather than as a percentage of dwellings in the residential flat building that are used for affordable housing.
The introduction of a ‘local character test’ will enable consent authorities to give greater weight to local considerations and will tend to ensure that affordable social and rental housing is compatible with the areas in which it is ultimately provided.
The Amendment SEPP is the first of two stages in the Government’s plans for affordable rental and social housing. The Government has announced that the second stage will involve the establishment of a Government taskforce that will develop local affordable housing strategies and a new Affordable Housing Choice SEPP.
The changes to the Affordable Housing SEPP which commenced on 20 May 2011 can be viewed on the Department of Planning and Infrastructure website: see http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/PlansforAction/Affordablerentalhousing/tabid/313/language/en-AU/Default.aspx.