The Rise of Medium Density Housing

February 21, 2020
The Rise of Medium Density Housing

Medium-density housing in Sydney has always been reserved for lot sizes and neighbourhoods that have previously been zoned as such. As a result of the old regulations, certain homeowners with lot sizes or locations that did not meet the size requirements for duplex development or additional homesteads on a single lot were not allowed to increase their property value by increasing the living capacity on their residential lots.

But all of that is about to change with the advent of new sizing dimensions for medium density housing development.

The change is not without naysayers. Those who are a vocal dissent believe that the change in housing density for these neighbourhoods will bring great complications including; traffic congestion, overpopulation of small neighbourhoods and the environmental strain such factors will cause to these areas.

Yet, a majority of persons, particularly current homeowners, are excited about the changes and the impending benefits.

How do I know if my lot qualifies?

The following criteria must be met for your home to now qualify for dual occupancy.

  1. Your addition, alteration or new build must be a complying development meeting the following characteristics;
    • One or two-story dual occupancy homes, manor homes or multi-dwelling houses (terraces)
    • any attached development or detached development related to any building referred to in paragraph (a).
  2. Your lot must also fall within the following parameters;
    • the lot must be in Zone RU5, Zone R1, Zone R2 or Zone R3,
    • the lot must have lawful access to a public road at the completion of the development

How do I get approval for this?

While approval has been fast-tracked to allow for immediate new development, it is important to keep in mind some of the basics for attaining such an approval. The following must be met;

  • The housing type you are wanting to convert to is already a part of your environment plan
  • The plans meet the relevant design requirements as per the Low-Medium density design guide
  • At least one off-road parking space is provided per dwelling

How will this law change impact me?

Most importantly it is necessary to take into consideration the plethora of benefits this new law will give rise to. Some of those benefits include;

  • A new and refreshing look to older and less desirable neighbourhoods. The new Code is reader-friendly and provides many ideas for improved housing designs
  • The increased low-density housing will provide neighbourhoods with more affordable housing
  • Changing the lots from single-family dwellings to multi-family dwellings will increase diversity amongst neighbours
  • The housing supply will increase faster allowing for more families to settle into new neighbourhoods quickly and efficiently

All of these changes will bring benefits to a variety of family types including the newly married, families with young children, married persons who need less space due to children moving out of home and the elderly who can have the company of other families, while still maintaining their independence.

How do I begin changing my dwelling?

To proceed with changing your dwelling to one that accommodates low-medium density housing, there are some steps you must follow. These steps include the following;

  • The Code must apply to your proposal
  • Secure a designer and/or architect to draw up a proposal for construction
  • Complete and submit your application for a Complying Development Certificate
  • Review and implement any requirements for informing your neighbours of the plans you have to change the configuration of your lot
  • Obtain your approval and start building

What benefits can I get from developing my lot?

The eventual advantages to changing your lot from a single-family dwelling to a low-medium density dwelling can also have a significant impact on an owner’s personal finances. It is expected that the change will significantly increase the owner’s property value.

Also, the additional dwelling will allow for an increase in income via rental fees. Families can further consider living in one home and selling the second dwelling, thereby allowing them to put away a significant amount of money to pay off their own mortgage or fund a child’s education.

There are countless ways in which this change in the law can benefit current homeowners and give rise to a new population of homeowners. The increased use of land will allow for many more housing options to open up to those who might not otherwise be able to afford to own their home, thereby increasing the number of people who can care for and support all of the local neighbourhoods.

Rolf Howard
Rolf is Managing Partner of Owen Hodge Lawyers. He has been in the legal practice since 1986 and a partner of Owen Hodge Lawyers since 1992. Rolf focuses on assisting clients to proactively manage legal responsibilities and opportunities to achieve competitive advantage. Rolf concentrates on business planning and formation, directors’ duties, corporate governance, fund raising and business succession. His major interest is to assist business owners and their financial advisers plan and implement strategies to build and exit from successful businesses.
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