Affordable and Diverse Housing The Housing SEPP

The NSW Government’s State Environmental Planning Policy  (Housing)  2021 (Housing SEPP) is designed to increase the amount  of affordable and diverse housing in NSW. 

The types of homes people need are changing. More people need access to affordable housing, and more people want to be able to choose between different types of homes to suit their differing needs across all stages of life. The Housing SEPP:

  • brings together five existing SEPPs which share the theme of housing into a single SEPP;
  • streamlines some of the provisions from those existing SEPPs;
  • updates a number of provisions, particularly those relating to boarding houses and seniors housing;
  • introduces two new housing types, co-living housing and independent living units; and
  • reduces inconsistencies between similar provisions for different housing types.

The Housing SEPP consolidates five former housing-related policies:

  • State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (ARHSEPP);
  • State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors and People with a Disability) 2004 (Seniors SEPP);
  • State Environmental Planning Policy No 70 - Affordable Housing (Revised Schemes) (SEPP 70);
  • State Environmental Planning Policy No 21 - Caravan Parks; and
  • State Environmental Planning Policy No 36 - Manufactured Home Estates.

The Housing SEPP also:

  • Provides for build-to-rent housing
  • Includes the planning rules for:
    • Caravan parks and manufactured home estates
    • Group homes
    • Retention of existing affordable rental housing
    • Secondary dwellings (sometimes known as granny flats)
    • Social housing

Types of Affordable and Diverse Accommodation

Seniors Housing

The Housing SEPP prescribes zones where seniors housing is permitted with consent and removes references to ‘land zoned primarily for urban purposes’. The introduction of prescribed zones removes the need for Site Compatibility Certificates (SCCs).

Seniors housing means housing for people who are at least 60 years of age or with a disability. Seniors housing could only be occupied by seniors or people who have a disability, people who live in the same household with seniors or people who have a disability, and staff employed to provide services in seniors housing. 

Independent Living Units

Independent living units were previously referred to as ‘self-contained dwellings’ in the Seniors SEPP. This change is to align with current industry terminology. The definition remains the same.

Co-Living Housing

Co-living housing is a new type of housing that has emerged in multiple countries around the world. This type of housing is typically built in highly connected areas, where residents have convenient access to work, study, and recreation opportunities. It often appeals to young professionals and key workers but can attract a wide variety of people from diverse demographics. Key features include:

  • Small private rooms, complemented by shared indoor and outdoor spaces which encourage residents to come together to relax and socialise,
  • Private and shared spaces that are fully furnished and ready-to-occupy, and
  • A sense of community that is often actively encouraged by a manager, who is responsible for managing shared spaces.

Built-to-rent Housing

Built-to-rent Housing (BTR) housing is large-scale, purpose-built rental housing that is held in single ownership and professionally managed. BTR housing is generally situated close to transport and services and funded by large-scale institutional investors.

BTR housing is permissible in any zone that residential flat buildings are permitted, as well as in the B3 Commercial Core and B4 Mixed Use.

Granny Flats

The Housing SEPP refers to this type of housing as secondary dwellings. A granny flat is a self-contained extension of the family home that is:

  • Established in conjunction with a house and is either within the house, or attached to the house, or separate from the house
  • On the same lot of land as the principal house and is not on a separate lot, in a strata plan or in a community title scheme.

Granny flats are now permitted in all residential zones subject to meeting the criteria set out in the Housing SEPP. A granny flat may occur either with DA consent, or as complying development. 

Boarding Houses

The Housing SEPP ensures that people who need this type of affordable and flexible accommodation will have greater choice. It will also provide a higher standard of accommodation and protect community standards. 

Boarding house development is now permissible in all residential and appropriate business zones. The Housing SEPP sets standards in relation to height, floor space and car parking.

Illegal Boarding Houses

It is illegal to operate a boarding house without Council consent. If you suspect a property in the City of Ryde is being unlawfully used as a boarding house, please report it to Council

More Information

For further information related to affordable and diverse housing, please refer to the Housing page on the NSW Planning website.