Design and Place policy an opportunity for NSW


The Property Council of Australia has today welcomed the release of the Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) of a new Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which will establish principles for the design and assessment of places in the urban context and simplify the planning system by replacing two existing design-focussed policies.

“The Government should be applauded for responding to industry feedback about the challenges that have been created by the current regime, in particular the Apartment Design Guide, as well as wanting to consolidate and simplify how design works within the NSW planning system,” NSW Executive Director Jane Fitzgerald said today.

“We need to ensure the final product delivers on the promise: a principles based, flexible policy that rewards innovation and great outcomes.  A SEPP that inhibits or prohibits – or that operates to delay or stymie or that increases costs – would be a retrograde step.”

Ms Fitzgerald said the elevation of design to ensure it is considered earlier in the planning of places and buildings provides an opportunity to reduce red tape in building design, while maintaining building standards and confidence in apartment living.

“Good design – great design – is at the heart of great developments and efforts to lift the standards generally in this regard should be applauded.

“History has shown that the current Apartment Design Guide and other related rules often inhibit innovation and good design outcomes as they have tended to be applied inflexibly or prescriptively.  This has the side effect of increasing costs and the time taken to deliver quality developments, especially housing.”

There is no doubt that new rules are timely with the challenges COVID has delivered as many people have thought deeply over the past year about how they live, work and play.  It’s important that standards keep pace with this changing context.  

“Getting the right outcome will be a balancing act and should focus on incentivising great design and exceeding sustainability goals rather than simply increasing the costs associated with design via more design excellence provisions in codes and plans or more and more rules,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“We look forward to working with Government over the months ahead to ensure the shared objective of great design and great built form outcomes are achieved.

If the final SEPP can be flexibly applied, based on principles rather than box ticking and creates an environment that rewards great design, innovation and sustainable outcomes, a great leap forward will have been achieved.”

Media contact: Lauren Conceicao | M 0499 774 356 | E [email protected]