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Victoria take note. New South Wales is leading the way in Australia with changes to the housing code that make medium-density housing types like terrace houses easier to build. The new code will take effect on July 6, 2018.

The goal is to improve housing affordability plus produce more housing choices to meet a range of emerging needs. The changes will fast track complying development approval. The new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code will allow medium density housing to be approved with a ‘complying development’ system.

Medium density low-rise housing has been missing

Up until now complying development approvals have been for straightforward residential, industrial or commercial projects like detached one, or two-storey homes, swimming pools or fences. But with the new code, manor houses (single buildings that comprise 3 or 4 homes), terrace houses, or dual occupancies will be eligible as well for complying development approval.

It’s estimated that by 2036 Sydney will need an extra 725,000 homes to cater for surging population growth. State Government Housing Minister Anthony Roberts says the new code will assist with quicker housing supply.

Medium density low rise housing as ‘complying development’ is allowed only where ‘medium density development’ has already been permitted by a Council local environment plan.

In Victoria as well as NSW, supply of this category of medium density low rise dwellings, sitting between the traditional freestanding home and strata title apartments, has been missing from housing stock. But both cities need it.

Emerging lifestyles need new home styles

As the population in NSW ages and evolves, we need a greater variety of homes to suit emerging needs and lifestyles, including empty-nesters, singles, and young families, says Housing Minister Anthony Roberts.

Under the new regulations the design of the housing has to be consistent with 2017’s Medium Density Design Guide. This had set the design criteria for low rise medium density dwelling types, with key principles regarding; built form and scale, neighbourhood character, aesthetics, density, sustainability, housing diversity and social interaction. These changes were welcomed by the Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Architects NSW, Joshua Morrin. Morrin said good architectural design for medium density dwellings makes sure residents can enjoy good liveability and amenity. “Good design prioritizes both human amenity and quality of space. Something our cities are going to need more and more as they grow bigger. Our living spaces need to work harder.”

“Smaller homes will play an increasingly important role in our cities. This highlights a need for good design principles as set out in the Medium Density Design Guide. Looking forward, quality design will future-proof the liveability in our communities.”