Design by Code?

by Mark

Two new housing codes will come into effect from 6 July this year. The underlying principle with both codes is that they are in plain English with clearly presented development controls that define the scale and shape of new residential development. This will allow approvals to be granted by Private Certifiers as a ‘Complying Development‘. That is, you can avoid the often cumbersome Development Application (DA) process through the local council.

The new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code will allow one and two storey dual occupancies and terraces to be carried out under a fast track Complying Development approval. It is supported by the Medium Density Design Guide to ensure good design outcomes are achieved for medium density housing. The code applies where medium density development is already permitted under a council’s Local Environmental Plan.

The new Greenfield Housing Code is aimed at accelerating the delivery of new homes in identified new land release (greenfield) areas across NSW, allowing one to two storey homes, alterations and additions to be carried out under the Complying Development approval process. An innovative aspect of this code is that each house will be required to plant a substantial tree in the front yard contributing to urban greening and its many benefits.

The theory is that the codes will save time and money and therefore speed up the delivery of new housing stock.  The increased supply will theoretically contribute to more affordable housing.  In relation to the Greenfield Housing Code, and it will be much the same for low rise medium density, the proposition is that approval time will be reduced to around 20 days (compared to an average of 71 days with a DA) and that costs will be reduced by $15,000.

I am reminded of the ‘triple constraint triangle’ used in Project Management.  The basic premise is that three main factors inform all decisions – time, cost and quality. By optimising two factors, inevitably the third will be diminished. Lets hope that the rush to increase housing supply does not reduce the quality of new homes.

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