Posted on July 12, 2018 by Megan Hawley and Katie Mortimer

New Housing Codes Commence

On 6 July 2018 the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) was amended to include the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code (MDH Code) and the Greenfield Housing Code (GH Code). Consequential amendments were also made to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (Regulation).

The amendments to the Codes SEPP took immediate effect. The MDH Code commenced in all but 50 local government areas, where it will not apply until 1 July 2019.

Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code 

We previously blogged on the proposed MDH Code. Now that it is in force, it operates to expand complying development to include the erection, alteration of, or addition to:

(a)  any one or two storey dual occupancy, manor house or multi dwelling housing (terraces);

(b) any attached development or detached development related to any building referred to in (a).

Importantly, clause 1.18(b) of the Codes SEPP requires any complying development to ‘be permissible, with consent, under an environmental planning instrument applying to the land on which the development is carried out‘. This means development can only occur under the MDH Code in zones where an LEP makes medium density housing permissible.

Deferral of the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code 

An amendment published on 5 July 2018, and a further amendment published on 13 July 2018 has deferred the application of the MDH Code until 1 July 2019 on land in any of the following local government areas:

Armidale Regional, Ballina, Bathurst Regional, Bayside, Bellingen, City of Blue Mountains, Burwood, Byron, Camden, City of Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Central Coast, City of Coffs Harbour, Cumberland, Georges River, City of Hawkesbury, Hilltops, Hornsby, Hunter’s Hill, Inner West, Kiama, Lane Cove, City of Liverpool, Mid-Coast, Mid-Western Regional, Moree Plains, Mosman, Narromine, Northern Beaches, City of Parramatta, City of Penrith, City of Randwick, City of Ryde, City of Shellharbour, City of Shoalhaven, Snowy Monaro Regional, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, City of Sydney, Tamworth Regional, The Hills Shire, Tweed, Upper Lachlan Shire, City of Willoughby, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly, City of Wollongong, Woollahra, Yass Valley.

This effectively enables those councils to pursue amendments to their planning controls to prohibit medium density housing covered by the MDH Code in areas where those councils do not want the MDH Code to operate.

Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide

The Regulation has also been amended to require consent authorities, when determining development applications for the purpose of a ‘manor house‘ or ‘multi dwelling housing (terraces)‘, to consider the Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide for Development Applications (Guide) published by the Department of Planning and Environment (Department). This is only required if there is not a development control plan that adequately addresses this type of development.

The Department has published a planning circular to provide guidance on when the Guide should apply.

Greenfield Housing Code

The GH Code applies to areas identified on the Greenfield Housing Code Area Maps,  generally being land release areas, to the exclusion of any other code for complying development. The GH Code makes the following types of development complying development when carried out on the areas shown on the maps:

(a) the erection of a new 1 or 2 storey dwelling house and any attached development,
(b) the alteration of, or an addition to, a 1 or 2 storey dwelling house (including any addition that results in a 2 storey dwelling house) and any attached development,
(c) the erection of detached development and the alteration of, or an addition to, any detached development.

These types of development are already complying development under the General Housing Code. However, the GH Code provides for different development standards for that development which are stated by the Department of Planning to align more closely with the State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Region Growth Centres) 2006 and Growth Centre Development Control Plans.

Transitional provisions relevant to the Greenfield Housing Code 

There has not been any deferral of the GH Code as there has been for the MDH Code, however transitional provisions apply.

In areas where the GH Code applies, complying development under the GH Code may continue to be carried out under the Transitional Housing Code until 13 July 2019 or General Housing Code until 15 December 2019.

The Department have stated the transitional provisions will allow builders and developers to deliver existing products, and allow time to design new dwellings in accordance with the GH Code.

UPDATE: On 13 July 2018 a further amendment was made to the Codes SEPP, that defers the application of the MDH Code until 1 July 2019 in the Bathurst Regional, City of Liverpool and City of Penrith local government areas. We updated this blog to reflect the further amendment.

Should you wish to discuss the new Codes, please contact Megan Hawley, Partner on 8235 9703 or by email, at