A new design guide will help make it easier to build well-designed low rise, medium density homes across NSW, following the release of a draft Medium Density Design Guide by the NSW Government.

The majority of homes currently under construction in NSW are freestanding houses and apartments, however a third of homeowners surveyed by the Department of Planning said they would consider downsizing to terraces – preferences which are being driven by changing lifestyles and demographics.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the draft policy is intended to encourage more and better designed terraces, townhouses and dual occupancies (two houses on one block) in response to demand for this versatile housing type.

“Sydney needs more choice in housing types than we are currently building and this policy will help to deliver better quality medium-density homes,” Mr Stokes said. 

“This type of housing has the added benefit of generally being more affordable too because it requires less land area.”

The draft Medium Density Housing Code contains building and design standards that promote a streamlined assessment of proposals and will apply across NSW.

The code will allow a range of homes – including townhouses, terraces, dual occupancies and manor homes – to be assessed as complying development as long as they meet specific design standards, saving time and money for homeowners.

Complying development is faster than traditional development applications, taking about 22 days compared to 71 days as it meets already agreed stringent standards and local council zoning requirements.

Proposed two storey building height limits are designed to ensure the size and scale of complying development is low rise and will easily fit into established streetscapes.

The Medium density housing accounts for only 10 per cent of housing approvals in Sydney, with just 5,390 approved in 2015-16. This is despite there being the potential for almost 280,000 medium density dwellings in Sydney based on current council zoning and planning controls.

The need for more high quality medium-sized houses comes as the latest population projection data revealed metropolitan Sydney will need another 726,000 homes over the next 20 years to meet demand.

The draft policy can be viewed at: