Housing SEPP finalised

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has now released the final Housing SEPP (now in effect). Shelter NSW supports any opportunity to promote innovative and diverse housing solutions for residents who need alternative, more affordable housing options. And while we see the Housing SEPP as a good foundation to simplify and consolidate housing planning policies, we remain disappointed with key aspects of the new framework.

Shelter has previously made a submission on the Housing SEPP during the latest consultation period in August 2021, asking for:

  1. All affordable housing to remain affordable in perpetuity (instead of timing out after 15 years)
  2. Provision of basic amenity for smaller and affordable housing typologies (such as private ensuites and kitchenettes) 
  3. More information and clarity around data collection and monitoring

What does DPIE say?
According the DPIE, the new Housing SEPP will:

  1. Make the planning system simpler by consolidating five existing housing-related policies.
  2. Introduce two new housing types to meet changing needs: co-living housing and independent living units for seniors
  3. Improve the way existing types of homes are delivered
  4. Include the planning rules on short-term rental accommodation

DPIE made the following changes following the latest consultation period:

  1. Ensuring boarding houses are built in appropriate places, are affordable and meet high design standards; 
  2. Improving the rules for seniors housing to make sure they are delivered close to services, and enable people to age in the communities they know and love; and

Updating some provisions for boarding houses, co-living and build-to-rent housing such as those applying to car parking requirements, local character and locational requirements. 

Shelter NSW’s assessment – high and lows
Disappointments & Concerns…

  1. Affordable housing remains time limited– albeit, it has increased from the previous 10 years to 15 years. By placing time limits on Affordable Housing, there will never be a real increase in the number of affordable dwellings in NSW. These developments receive significant planning benefits in the form of density bonuses in exchange for delivering affordable housing – which reverts to market housing after 15 years.
  2. Co-living housing (a new housing typology) will attract density bonuses similar to that boarding houses are able to access; yet co-living housing does not have any guaranteed affordability requirements.
  3. Regional NSW variation not acknowledged – income thresholds are still divided into the binary of Greater Sydney and ‘rest of NSW’.  In our view and that of other stakeholders, this is nowhere near nuanced enough to capture genuinely very low, low, and moderate income households by location.
    Further, DPIE has persisted with its mandated ‘walkability criteria’ from potential R2 sites to certain business zones in permitting some types of affordable housing which is problematic in many regional settings. This is now made all the more confusing with slated changes to B- zone categories by way of DPIE reforms to categorising ‘employment zone’ lands.

Pleased to see…
We are pleased to see that boarding houses must now be managed by registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs). CHPs are a trusted, safe and secure sector with the capability to properly manage boarding houses. Given the unfair community backlash aimed at boarding houses, we hope to see CHPs actively build community support for this important housing product.

Shelter will continue our work to lobby government agencies to improve housing policy and watch closely as it is implemented across the housing sector.