Complying Development - SEPP Housing Code Amendment

Complying Development under the Low Rise Housing Diversity Code - New Amendment

The NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt & Complying Development) 2008 (the 'Code') has been recently amended for complying dual occupancy development in the Shire. From the 2 October 2021 to 2 October 2023 the Code will require complying dual occuancy development to comply with the density provisions in Sutherland Shire Local Environmental Plan 2015.

What is Complying Development and the Low Rise Housing Diversity Code?

Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development, determined by an accredited private certifier. Complying development applies to homes, businesses and industry and allows for a range of things like the construction of a new dwelling house, alterations and additions to a house, new industrial buildings, demolition of a building, and changes to a business use.

The Low Rise Housing Diversity Code (the Code), is part of the State policy ‘State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008’. It aims to facilitate low rise medium density housing as complying development in the R2 Low Density Residential and R3 Medium Density Residential zones. The Code allows one and two storey dual occupancies, manor houses (small flat buildings with 3-4 units) and multiple dwelling (terraces) as complying development. Development must meet all of the development standards in the Code and the Design Criteria in the Low Rise Housing Diversity Design Guide, to be approved as complying development.

Further information on the State policy Low Rise Housing Diversity Code, and complying development standards, is available on the Department of Planning Industry and Environment website.

Why is the State Government amending the Code for the Sutherland Shire?

The Code has been in effect since 1 July 2020. Recent dual occupancy development approved under the Code, in particular development in the R2 Low Density Residential zone, has been larger, with greater bulk and scale than those approved under Council’s own planning controls  - Sutherland Shire Local Environmental Plan 2015 (SSLEP2015).

It was incongruous that the development standards under the State complying development provisions allowed greater building bulk and scale. Larger developments can cause greater amenity impacts for neighbours.

How is the Code being amended?

The amendment inserts new clauses in the Code that require that the floor space ratio for complying dual occupancy development not exceed the floor space ratio for any such development under Sutherland Shire Local Environmental Plan 2015. This is to ensure that such development is no larger than that approved by Council as a development application. The floor space ratio is the amount of floor space relative to the site area. More information onhow to calulate floor space ratios is available here.

When will the amendment come in to effect?

The amendment was published on 2 July 2021. It comes in to effect on the 2 October 2021. The amendment is temporary – for two years, to enable the Department of Planning Industry and Environment to monitor and address any shortcomings. 

Are neighbours consulted on this type of housing?

Council is not involved in notifying neighbours of complying development.

Before a complying development certificate can be issued for the erection of housing under the Code, an accredited certifier must notify neighbours. This is called pre-approval notification. Certifiers must notify the occupants of neighbouring houses within a 20 metre radius at least 14 days before issuing a complying development certificate. Neighbours can request to see the plans of the proposed complying development from the applicant or the certifier. However, there is no obligation for the applicant to make these available. Neighbours must also be notified at least seven days before work begins.

It is important to note that the ‘notification’ process for complying development is different to an ‘exhibition’ process which may occur for development applications. Notification of complying development prior to approval of a complying development proposal is for information only. Neighbours cannot make a submission on a neighbouring complying development. This is because complying development must comply 100% with the development standards in the policy.

Who ensures the proposed housing complies with the Code provisions?

It is the private certifier’s role to make sure that the proposal complies with all the development standards in the Code. The approved complying development plans can be viewed at council after a complying development certificate is issued. Complaints about complying development should be made to the principle certifier overseeing a development. More information on 'concerns with development' can be found on the NSW Fair Trading website.

I am preparing a complying development application which I am yet to submit/apply to a Private Certifier. What does this mean for my design?

New applications, on/after 2 October must comply with the floor space ratio specified in SSLEP2015. Your building designer should consult SSLEP2015 and liaise with the Certifier accordingly.

I have a complying development application under assessment by a Private Certifier. What does this mean for my application?

The amendment does not affect applications under assessment. The application should be determined as if the amendment was not in force.

I have a current complying development approval that is yet to commence building/has commenced building.

The amendment does not affect current complying development approvals.

Where can I find more information on the Code and undertaking a complying development?

More information on complying development is available at the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website:

Or you can contact a Private Certifier. More information on certifiers is available here:




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