Medium Density Code Update

Sep 20, 2019 Planning News

This week, the NSW Government announced that it will further delay implementing the Medium Density Code in 46 council areas across NSW, including Mosman, until 1 July 2020.

This follows an independent review of the Code by University of Technology Sydney academics, Professor Roberta Ryan and Neil Selmon. The review identified broad support for increasing housing diversity across NSW, however noted council concerns about the Code’s impact on local character under the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and industry concerns about its complexity and potential for legal challenge.

The Medium Density Code is a component of the NSW Government’s State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the Codes SEPP). It sets out State-wide planning controls for one and two storey dual occupancies, manor houses and multi-dwelling housing (terraces) to be carried out as complying development. Approval can be obtained from a private certifier within 20 days, with no community consultation, bypassing council’s planning controls and the development application process.

Council has raised serious concerns about the Medium Density Code, and at its meetings on 4 September 2018 and 4 June 2019, resolved to seek permanent exclusion from the Code.

In June this year, Mayor Carolyn Corrigan spoke with the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, the Hon Rob Stokes, about Council’s concerns, particularly that the Code would adversely impact Mosman’s established neighbourhoods by allowing development with a greater bulk and scale, significantly less landscaped area, and no consideration of Mosman’s view corridors, scenic protection area or local character. The Code would not provide greater housing diversity in Mosman, as the types of housing facilitated under the Code have been permitted in Mosman for decades – in fact, over 65% of Mosman’s current housing stock is medium and high-density dwellings.

Blog posts published earlier this year on 14 June and 9 May summarise Council’s concerns.

What happens next?

The NSW Government has advised that the extended delay to implementing the Code will provide councils time to complete significant strategic planning work, including the preparation of a local strategic planning statement (which must be completed by 31 March 2020 for Greater Sydney councils) and a local housing strategy.

Council planning staff will now consider the findings of Professor Ryan’s report, including the recommended amendments to the Code, and work with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to address Council’s concerns.