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the low rise medium density housing code

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

The much debated Medium Density Housing Code is back in the headlights. Touted as addressing the ‘missing middle’, the proposed code was introduced in April 2018. The code allows for a range of medium density housing types up to a maximum of two floors. This could include terraces, dual occupancies and manor houses. The code only allows low rise development and only where medium density housing is already permitted by council.

The housing code allows for proposals to be assessed as ‘complying development’. This means there is no development application process, no community consultation and has a much faster approval turn around time than a DA.

The code caused an uproar last year and ultimately 50 councils were given a one year extension (delay) to prepare for the introduction of the code.

Prior to the recent State election, one of the Labor Party’s promises was to scrap the code completely. Labor were not successful at the polls and so the code is still in existence.

The new (and old) Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, has come out in support of the code, which is due to have its one year suspension lifted on July 1. Debate is still raging with industry and development groups on one side and the Urban Taskforce and groups like Save our Suburbs on the other side.

However, the future still isn’t clear. Mr Stokes stated in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on June 13, that once the moratorium is lifted, he would commission a review by UTS academic Roberta Ryan. Following the receipt of the review, the code would be in application by the end of the year. It is expected that councils will use this time to try and change their planning laws to restrict what areas within their boundaries allow medium density housing - remembering that for the proposal to be treated as a CDC it must be within a medium density housing zone.

So what does this all mean? The State Government needs to balance an economy that is keen for another injection of energy with reports of hundreds of projects waiting for a green light; against the calls to protect the fabric of the suburbs or to provide the additional density along transport corridors.

As for timing and the opportunity for certainty for communities, councils, land owners and developers - who knows. This is going to be a debated piece of planning for weeks to come.

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