Posted on July 10, 2015 by Stuart Simington

SEPP 65 and Apartment Design Amendments in Detail

In this post, we address the detail of the key amendments about to be made to SEPP 65 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 effective from 17 July 2015 in conjunction with the introduction of the Apartment Design Guide.

Additional Aims/Objectives

  • The aims and objectives of SEPP 65 have been supplemented to include the following new matters:
    • To contribute to the provision of a variety of dwelling types to meet population growth, and
    • To support housing affordability, and
    • To facilitate the timely and efficient assessment of applications for development to which this Policy applies.

Revised Application of Policy

  • SEPP65 is now expressed to apply to shop top housing or mixed use development with a residential accommodation component if the building  concerned is three (3) or more above ground storeys and contains four (4) or more dwellings.
  • Importantly, however, the SEPP 65 will not apply to boarding houses and serviced apartments unless the relevant LEP provides otherwise. This will no doubt reduce the cost of producing boarding house developments consistently with the new aim of the policy to support housing affordability.

Design Review Panel Referrals

  • Mandatory referral requirements for DAs:
    • The design review panel must provide its advice on a DA to the consent authority within 14 days of its first meeting to deal with the application concerned. This will provide panels with more time to consider DAs than previously where the design review panel was given 31 days to respond.
    • If this 14 day period has elapsed and the consent authority has not received advice from the panel, the consent authority can determine the application without considering advice.
    • Further, the referral requirement does not apply if an architectural design competition that is consistent with the Design Excellence Guidelines, has been held in relation to the proposed development.
  • Mandatory referral requirements for some s96 modification applications:
    • Applications under s96(2) and 96AA(1) in relation to DAs that were required to be referred to a design review panel are required to be accompanied by a design review statement. Nothing of substance has changed in that respect.
    • However, more significantly cl115(3B) of the Regulation provides that if the verification statement for the s96 is given by a person who did not design or direct the design of the original development for which consent was granted, it is now mandatory for such applications to be referred to the design review panel for advice as to whether the modifications diminish or detract from the design quality or compromise the design intent of the development.

Standards that cannot be used as grounds to refuse development consent or modification of a development consent

  • A consent authority may not refuse consent  to a DA or  modification)application for a residential apartment development on the basis of the following matters:
    • if the car parking for the building will be equal to or greater than the recommended minimum amount of car parking specified in Part 3J of the Apartment Design Guide (see below);
    • if the internal area for each apartment will be equal to or greater than the recommended minimum internal area for the relevant apartment type specified in Part 4D of the Apartment Design Guide (see below);
    • if the ceiling heights for the building will be equal to or greater than the recommended minimum ceiling heights specified in Part 4C of the Apartment Design Guide (see below).

Minimum Amount of Car Parking

  • Part 3J of the Apartment Design Guide specifies minimum car parking requirement for residents and visitors for developments in the following locations:
    • on sites that are within 800 metres of a railway station or light rail stop in the Sydney Metropolitan Area; or
    • on land zoned, and sites within 400 metres of land zoned, B3 Commercial Core, B4 Mixed Use or equivalent in a nominated regional centre.

The minimum car parking requirements are those set out in the Guide to Traffic Generating Developments, or the car parking requirement prescribed by the relevant council, whichever is the lesser.

Minimum Internal Area for an Apartment

  • Part 4D of the Apartment Design Guide requires apartments to have the following minimum internal areas:
Apartment type Minimum internal area
Studio 35m²
1 bedroom 50m²
2 bedroom 70m²
3 bedroom 90m²
  • The minimum internal areas include only one bathroom.
  • Additional bathrooms increase the minimum internal area by 5m² each.
  • Further, a fourth bedroom and further additional bedrooms increase the minimum internal area by 12m² each.

Minimum Ceiling Heights

  • Part 4C of the Apartment Design Guide requires that minimum ceiling heights, measured from finished floor level to finished ceiling, are:
Minimum ceiling height for apartment and mixed use buildings
Habitable rooms 2.7m
Non-habitable 2.4m
For 2 storey apartments 2.7m for main living area floor2.4m for second floor, where its area does not exceed 50% of the apartment area
Attic spaces  1.8m at edge of room with a 30 degree minimum ceiling slope
If located in mixed used areas 3.3m for ground and first floor to promote future flexibility of use
  • These minimums obviously do not preclude higher ceilings being provided if desired.

Interaction with DCPs

  • In the past, there have been some areas where council DCPs have included requirements that are inconsistent with the RFDC.
  • Significantly, the amended SEPP provides that DCPs cannot be inconsistent with the objectives, design criteria and design guidance  set out in Parts 3 and 4 of the Apartment Design Guide in relation to the following matters:
    • visual privacy,
    • solar and daylight access,
    • common circulation and spaces,
    • apartment size and layout,
    • ceiling heights,
    • private open space and balconies,
    • natural ventilation.
  • Draft DCPs, or amendments to existing DCPs, must be referred by a council to a design review panel if the proposed provisions apply to residential apartment development.

Design Quality Principles

In conjunction with the Apartment Design Guide, the Design Quality Principles have also been revised.

Amended Principles Repealed Principles
Principle 1 Context and neighbourhood character Principle 1 Context
Principle 2 Built form and scale Principle 2 Scale
Principle 3 Density Principle 3 Built form
Principle 4 Sustainability Principle 4 Density
Principle 5 Landscape Principle 5 Resource, energy and water efficiency
Principle 6 Amenity Principle 6 Landscape
Principle 7 Safety Principle 7 Amenity
Principle 8 Housing diversity and social interaction Principle 8 Safety and security
Principle 9 Aesthetics Principle 9 Social dimensions and housing affordability
Principle 10 Aesthetics

Special requirements for construction certificates for residential apartment development

  • A consent authority will be unable to issue a construction certificate or occupation certificate for a residential apartment development if the consent authority has not received a verification statement by the qualified designer.
  • The verification statement must verify that ‘the plans and specification achieve or improve the design quality of the development for which development consent was granted, having regard to the design quality principles’ unless the development application was required to accompanied by a BASIX certificate, in which case the principles do not need to be verified to the extent that they aim to:
  • reduce consumption of mains-supplied potable water, or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the use of the building, or
  • improve the thermal performance of the building.

Increased lodgement fees

An additional maximum fee of $3000 (increased from $750) is required where an application is referred to the design review panel for advice.