Development applications in New South Wales are set to be overhauled with the introduction of the New South Wales Housing Code commencing on the 27th February, 2009 ("the Housing Code").
The Housing Code has been introduced within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 ("the SEPP") and provides for new detached houses and additions to be approved within ten days.
Under the Housing Code proposals for lots over 450 square metres can be approved by an accredited certifier or council within ten days if they meet set standards and are the following types of development:
- New single or two storey detached houses.
- House alterations and additions.
- Other ancillary developments such as swimming pools.
The major change to the development process contained in the Housing Code is found in the General Housing Code which states that if a development application meets the requirements of the Code it will be automatically approved. This removes the current requirement for a merit based assessment by a local council.
Under the Housing Code a Complying Development Certificate Application must be determined within ten days of lodgment after which two days notice of the issuing of the Certificate must be given to neighbours. In practice this will mean that building can commence within as little as 12 days after the lodgment of a Certificate. The Government is hoping that this new procedure will increase the uptake of complying development from 11% to 50% across NSW over the next four years.
The Housing Code contains details of 41 minor housing developments that, if they meet the Code specification, will no longer require development approval. The new exemptions include access ramps, aerials, water features and windmills.
There are some areas that are excluded from the application of the new Housing Code including environmentally sensitive areas such as coastal waters, wetlands, critical habitats and land containing a State listed heritage item. The Housing Code also states that complying development under the Code cannot be carried out on land that is bush fire prone. Developments of these types will need to be processed in the normal way by the making of a development application to the local council for a merit based determination of the application.
NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally said the new code will provide a much needed boost to the housing industry in NSW, which saw only 16,000 NSW housing approvals last year compared to 31,000 in Victoria.