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Planning changes set to boost Sydney housing supply

The City of Sydney Council has endorsed changes to planning and development rules to encourage more build-to-rent housing and family-friendly apartments, while improving sustainability and design excellence.


Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the proposed amendments to the Sydney Local Environment Plan 2012 respond to the changing needs of the City and will help effectively deliver additional space for jobs and housing


“The proposed changes to our local planning controls balance the need for additional housing and the workplaces of the future while protecting and enhancing the City's character, public spaces and sustainability,” Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore AO said.


“Exciting changes include new incentives for build-to-rent housing in the CBD, embedded Net Zero building controls, the promotion of increased tree canopy and green roofs and a streamlined processes for design excellence and major development applications.


“We are also supporting housing diversity and addressing the loss of smaller and more affordable dwellings as a result of redevelopment.”


Under the changes, developers would be given between 20% and 75% more floor space for build-to-rent development for both conversions and new builds, depending on the site location. This would apply to applications made within a five-year time frame from when the changes are formally approved. 


“We’ve seen build-to-rent work well overseas to help address the housing crisis, with these types of developments providing stable and secure accommodation for renters,” the Lord Mayor said.


“In addition to increasing rental stock in Central Sydney, this type of accommodation has high occupation rates. That is great for inner-city vibrancy and avoids situations where international investors leave newly built flats empty for capital gain.


“Build-to-rent housing does not sit idle with lights out, as some high-end investor apartments do, and these developments will help revitalise and boost the local economy.”


The City made the proposed changes after reviewing the drop in demand for non-premium office space in Sydney following the Covid pandemic, with vacancy rates currently about 14%.


Developers will also be able to access 20% more floor space for co-living accommodation to encourage co-living developments to stimulate an increase in student and low-income worker accommodation.


“We know that students are one of the groups that have been hit hardest by the rental crisis in Sydney, with lack of appropriate accommodation and affordability both major issues,” the Lord Mayor said.


“By offering these additional floor space incentives we hope landowners and developers will create more co-living accommodation in areas like Haymarket area, which has proved popular with students in Sydney.”


The proposed changes also focus on creating more family friendly accommodation. The proposals reduce the number of two-bedroom apartments permitted in a residential development while raising the minimum number of units with three-bedrooms or more.


“Right across the City but especially in urban renewal areas like Green Square, we have seen a steadily increasing number of families living in apartments,” the Lord Mayor said.


“This is a great endorsement of the City as a wonderful place to live and raise a family, but it means we need to encourage diversity in our apartment development mix and ensure the delivery of units with more than two bedrooms.”


“The proposed changes would see a minimum of 20% of dwellings in new residential developments made up of three-bedroom plus apartments to help provide more suitable accommodation for families, ideally located on the ground-floor or near to the building’s communal open space.”


The changes also encourage more sustainable buildings, with height incentives for buildings that include green roofs.


“We have introduced incentives for developers to install lifts and stairs for roof access, shade structures, accessible bathrooms and kitchen facilities to encourage better use of communal and social spaces on top of residential apartment buildings,” the Lord Mayor said.


The draft changes will now be presented to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a gateway determination.

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