New ‘design and place’ planning policy on exhibition

Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Central Coast Parliamentary Secretary Adam Crouch

Central Coast Council has welcomed a new planning policy proposed by the State Government which sets out to put heathier communities, housing choice, cooler and walkable suburbs and sustainable development first.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, said the draft Design and Place SEPP, which is now on public exhibition, would deliver NSW’s first comprehensive design policy, and offer an important opportunity to reshape the look and feel of the places we live in.

“This policy will allow designers to think outside the box and support innovation and creativity when building new homes, suburbs and cities,” Stokes said.

“Great places aren’t always the product of rules and regulation, they are the result of place-based design that puts communities at their heart.

“This principles-based policy is an important step in defining what matters and how through good processes and wiser decision making we can build a beautiful and prosperous future.”

Stokes said key benefits of the draft Design and Place SEPP include: greater housing diversity and choice, including provisions for flexible layouts for families, space to work or study, adequate sunlight, more storage and usable balconies; homes that are more comfortable in both winter and summer and are cost effective to heat and cool; more, and better quality parks within reach; greater permeability in new subdivisions that make it easier to walk or cycle to key destinations; beautiful and productive high streets and centres that are better for business; and commercial buildings that operate at net zero, from day one of coming online.

NSW Government Architect Abbie Galvin said the proposed changes to the Apartment Design Guide and new Urban Design Guide aim to respond to people’s changing needs – particularly to support families and those working from home.

“During the pandemic we’ve seen our homes and apartments become schools, offices and gyms, and many of us have enjoyed walking or cycling more in our neighbourhoods,” she said.

“This timely policy seeks to reflect our new way of living.

“There’ll be quality apartments with outdoor space and plenty of room for growing families and friends.

“There’ll be quality streets, public spaces and neighbourhoods that are cool and connected; places where people love to live.”

The Government says it has been working closely with industry, local government and environmental groups throughout the SEPP including regular policy working groups and will continue to work with stakeholders to get the policy right.

The draft Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) includes updates to the Apartment Design Guide, The Building Sustainability Index (BASIX), a new Urban Development Guide and Design Review Manual.

A spokesperson said Central Coast Council welcomes any approach by the State Government to make the planning system less complex and easier to navigate.

“Council will continue to monitor the specific proposal put forward by the government and provide comment to any future consultation on amendments as appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

Environmental groups have hailed the draft plan as “a step in the right direction” and say it provides a significant opportunity to work toward net zero emissions and a green economy.

The draft SEPP is on public exhibition until February 28, 2022.

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Terry Collins