New planning policy aims to create more liveable spaces

Housing graphic for illustration

A new planning policy being proposed by the State Government could have major design impacts for the Central Coast.

Central Coast Council will look into how the new policy proposed by Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, would impact it, a spokesperson said.

Stokes said design would be at the heart of the new policy, which aims to create more beautiful buildings, better public spaces and leafier suburbs.

The Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) proposes to consolidate and replace existing design-focused policies, including SEPP 65 and BASIX SEPP to ensure good design outcomes for any new major development in the state.

Stokes said the proposal represents a rare opportunity to re-shape the look and feel of the places we live in.

“The proposed policy helps shift our thinking away from only designing beautiful buildings to designing beautiful neighbourhoods,” Stokes said.

“Under the proposal, new developments will now have to show how they respond and contribute to the surrounding area.

“We want to create places that have beauty and character; that are green, liveable and bring people together with access to open space and active transport connections.

“This policy will allow for innovation and creativity by giving designers and planners the ability to think outside the box so that good design isn’t stifled by prescriptive one-size-fits-all regulations.

“It will also set expectations for developers early on, providing more consistency, clarity and certainty which will help speed up the planning processes for good development.”

The proposed Design and Place SEPP will encourage: greater innovation and design flexibility; greater housing diversity including better apartments for families; consistent guidance for state and local design review panels; better public spaces through new targets including controls for walking connections and shadier footpaths; greener spaces with tree canopy targets, green roofs and walls; and development that minimises energy use and carbon footprint.

NSW Government Architect, Abbie Galvin, is overseeing development of the Design and Place SEPP.

“This will guide us all to design and prioritise healthy places for people, community and country,” Galvin said.

“Design is about people, our shared history and our future.

“This policy will help integrate the things we value about the design of our local communities and our cities.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment engaged with industry peak bodies on the development of the policy from July to October, 2020, and further collaboration across government and with councils, industry and community stakeholders is underway.

The Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the Design and Place SEPP is now on public exhibition until March 31.

Further consultation will occur later this year and will include the Public Space and Urban Design Guide, Apartment Design Guide and additional guidance for BASIX changes.

The SEPP is expected to be finalised in late-2021 or early-2022.

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