New zoning laws in New South Wales


rofessional planning an imaginary cadastral map of territory with buildings and roads against a green area

The Minns Government, characterised by bold initiatives to confront the prevailing housing crisis, is actively pursuing new zoning laws in New South Wales designed to usher in an era of new, strategically located, low-and mid-rise homes to address the imperative need for housing diversity.

Local councils independently establish regulations governing the permissible types of residential structures within their respective jurisdictions. Regrettably, these regulations often fall short of accommodating the evolving housing requirements of successive generations, particularly in proximity to vital infrastructure and social amenities.

In October, the government discerned a substantial void in housing density approvals. Terraces and 1-2 storey unit blocks, allowable under R2 zoning, were identified in only two of the 32 Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) in Sydney—constituting a mere six percent of the city’s LEPs. This regulatory oversight, colloquially termed the ‘missing middle,’ has overlooked the potential of low-rise density amidst a burgeoning housing crisis.

Walnut shell

The proposed reforms in a nutshell


The crux of this discourse lies in the proposed reforms that can redefine the housing landscape in NSW. The reforms encompass:

Dual Occupancies: Authorisation for duplexes (two separate homes on a single lot) in all R2 low-density residential zones across NSW.

Terraces, townhouses, and two-storey apartment blocks: Permission for these architectural typologies near transport hubs and town centers in R2 low-density residential zones across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast, and Illawarra (Six Cities region).

Mid-rise apartment blocks: Allowance for mid-rise apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centers in R3 medium-density zones and appropriately designated employment zones. This promises an augmented housing inventory within a brief 10-minute walk from essential amenities.

How these reforms will be implemented


To operationalise these reforms, the government will introduce a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). Simultaneously, local councils are strongly encouraged to align their planning regulations with these new policies or, ideally, surpass them. Should a council’s regulations meet or exceed the new NSW Government policy, the State Government’s regulatory adjustments will not be imposed.

These reforms transcend mere construction initiatives; they signify a concerted effort to cultivate communities, fortify connectivity, and contend with the exigent housing needs of our era.

As we anticipate the realisation of these changes, it becomes evident that the Minns Government is taking substantial strides towards fostering a more sustainable and inclusive housing future.

A pivotal driver behind the burgeoning appeal of bespoke developments is the malleability afforded by regulatory frameworks. Notably, under an R2 zoning category, one can actualise a multi-residential development, courtesy of the State Environmental Planning Policy (NSW). This distinctive latitude presents many prospects for discerning investors and developers, rendering developments a positive choice for those pursuing robust and gratifying investments.

“These changes can create fear for existing homeowners with the possibility of heritage destruction, erosion of neighbourhood character, tree removal, loss of wildlife habitat, and having larger-scale developments being constructed adjacent to their homes.  To date, there is no detail concerning these changes, and when we receive more details we can advise you on what options are available”. Playoust Churcher 

To understand more about the upcoming changes to zoning regulations on the North Shore and the opportunities for development and/or how they may impact your home, we are able to assist you in navigating the changes as more detail is provided by both the State and Local Governments.

When you are looking for a highly reputable architectural firm with the experience, skill sets and financial acumen to bring your project to life, contact us and experience a new level of professionalism and service.

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