New Low Rise Housing Diversity Code not welcomed by all

A new NSW Government Low Rise Housing Diversity Code was implemented on July 1 in areas where it had previously been deferred and the State Opposition has claimed that it will lead to overdevelopment and crowding.

The Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, is demanding that the Code be scrapped or heavily amended.

“The Code sets aside Council planning controls and allows more intense, unplanned development,” Warren said.

“Under the Code, terrace houses, dual occupancy and manor houses will be fast tracked under the State Environment Planning Policy as ‘complying developments’ in as little as 20 days.

“These do not require a full development application to a council, only a complying development certificate issued by a certifier.

“This process removes Council oversight and community input.

“The Code has been described by many councils as overdevelopment by stealth and has the potential to overcrowd suburban streets across the state,” Warren said.

Labor wants the Government to either scrap the Code entirely or: permanently exclude local government areas which are especially bushfire prone and have already made provision for medium density in local planning rules; and, ensure the code does not remove existing planning controls or community input.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has also voiced concerns over the code, saying it fears that it will make it harder for councils to uphold community confidence in an orderly development system that supports the local character of their areas.

LGNSW President, Linda Scott, said the goal of the Code was to provide greater housing choice by creating low rise terrace style housing alternatives to apartment developments.

“While councils strongly support the need for more diverse housing, some are highly concerned that a code that removes consultation with neighbours and provides a blanket approach with generic design and amenity standards will result in developments that are poorly matched to existing local character,” Scott said.

She said the Government should allow councils to retain the power to decide on individual developments, ensuring the right balance between the need for different forms and size of housing that support existing amenity and local community expectations.

However, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said the purpose of the Code is to improve housing affordability as well as encourage more housing diversity.

“The Code only applies where a council has already zoned land for this type of development,” he said.

“Every council in NSW has had more than two years to tailor the Code to their communities.”

A spokesperson for Central Coast Council said Council was considering the impacts of what the announcement means for the community.

“Council will analyse the impact of this announcement and provide additional comment directly to the community in due course,” the spokesperson said.

Reporter: Terry Collins