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Proposed amendments to planning rules could see much-needed increases in co-living accommodation, build-to-rent, and family-sized apartments.
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The City of Sydney council has endorsed amendments to the Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 that aim to improve the availability and sustainability of housing in the Sydney central business district (CBD).
The proposed amendments take inspiration from existing strategies that overseas councils have used to address the housing crisis.
Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore AO, said that “the proposed changes to our local planning controls balance the need for additional housing while protecting and enhancing the city’s character, public spaces and sustainability”.
“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 streamlined processes for design excellence and major development applications,” said the Lord Mayor.
The draft planning changes have been finalised, and the amendments are now being presented to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for consideration.
Here are the main changes covered under the proposed amendments.
The new planning controls would allow between 20 per cent and 75 per cent more floor space for build-to-rent housing in new developments and conversions, with the exact proportion varying based on site location.
Applications made within five years of the date when the plans were formally approved will all be subject to the new rules.
Ms Moore explained that build-to-rent accommodation is one way to avoid the trap of overseas investors leaving new flats empty for capital gain.
“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,” she stated.
Developers would also be able to access 20 per cent more floor space for co-living, a strategy which the Lord Mayor stressed is key for giving students and low-income workers a roof over their heads.
“We know that students are one of the groups that have been hit hardest by the rental crisis in Sydney,” said Ms Moore.
She explained: “By offering these additional floor space incentives, we hope landowners and developers will create more co-living accommodation in areas like the Haymarket area, which has proved popular.
Three-bedroom apartments
The new changes will reduce the proportion of two-bedroom flats permitted in an apartment block, and increase the number of three-bedroom flats.
“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,” Ms Moore said.
“The proposed changes would see a minimum of 20 per cent of dwellings in new residential developments made up of three-bedroom plus apartments to help provide more suitable accommodation for families.”
Rooftop greenspace
The amendments would also unlock new greenspace opportunities in a so-far overlooked area: urban rooftops.
“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,” said the Lord Mayor.
Buildings that include green roofs would also be given height incentives.

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