Posted on June 21, 2016 by Frances Tse

New Housing Code proposed to replace existing General Housing Code

The Department of Planning and Environment has published a draft Housing Code to replace the General Housing Code in Part 3 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (‘Codes SEPP‘).  While the draft Housing Code looks significantly different from the current provisions in Part 3 of the Codes SEPP, the changes are primarily to the way the provisions are structured.

The ‘Explanation of Intended Effect’ published by the Department of Planning and Environment states that the draft Housing Code ‘ensures development standards for one and two storey dwellings are well-structured and simple to use for all stakeholders’. It further states that ‘the overall intent of the amendment is to simplify the existing code to make it more accessible to the general public’.

One of the ways the draft Housing Code will achieve its intended effect is to restructure the provisions of the Codes SEPP. For example, in the current Part 3 of the Codes SEPP, development standards for all types of housing development covered by the Code are grouped together according to the type of development standard (e.g. building height and setbacks), so a user may need to search through different subdivisions in order to find all the development standards applicable to his or her development.  In the draft Housing Code, development standards are proposed to be grouped according to the type of housing development so a user should be able to find all the development standards relevant to their particular housing development in one division.

The draft Housing Code also proposes to distinguish between ‘primary development standards‘, ‘secondary development standards‘ and ‘tertiary development standards‘ as follows:

  • Primary development standards‘ which are described as standards that establish the permitted envelope for development are maximum building height, maximum gross floor area, minimum landscaped areas and minimum setbacks,
  • Secondary development standards’ which are described as standards that establish the design and appearance of development to ensure that the design is responsive to the surrounding development include standards relating to building design, attached balconies, decks, patios, terraces, privacy screening and car parking,
  • Tertiary development standards‘ are described as standards that are proposed to apply to all development types and include matters such as standards for earthworks, drainage and protection of trees.

Other than separating out development standards which are conceptually different there does not appear to be any operational purpose in differentiating between primary, secondary and tertiary development standards.

Another way the draft Housing Code proposes to simplify the existing code is to include tables and diagrams to illustrate the intent of the provisions.

In addition to the proposed structural changes to the Housing Code, the ‘Explanation of Intended Effect’  also states that the draft Housing Code provides for  the following minor policy changes:

  • setbacks are expressed in less complex formula,
  • controls for secondary road articulation have been updated to better align with controls for primary road articulation,
  • controls for garages, carports and detached studios have been amended to be more flexible,
  • controls for cabanas, cubby houses, ferneries, gardensheds, gazebos and greenhouses have been amended to make the controls more flexible,
  • controls for fencing have been amended to limit fences with a setback to a primary or secondary road to 1.2m in height.

The draft Housing Code is on exhibition until 12 August 2016 and can be viewed here.