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Fast-tracked approvals for dual occupancies

Earlier this year a new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Guide was introduced in NSW and since then councils, including Newcastle and around the Hunter Valley, have implemented changes and updated their systems for more streamlined land development procedures, including the ability for property owners to sub-divide their block of land to maximise the land value, providing easier access to particular types of property investment. As a result, now is one of the best times for homeowners and developers looking towards a dual occupancy opportunity to select their preferred builder and start the development process.

Why are dual occupancies being encouraged by government?

Dual occupancies are increasingly encouraged by both government and local councils because two types of properties still dominate the NSW building market – traditional free-standing homes and apartments. While these types of dwellings are great for some sections of the investment and owner-occupier property markets, many people are seeking either more affordable alternatives or have specific size and design needs that are just not met by other types of new homes. Plus, as Australia’s population is aging, rapidly growing, and increasingly diverse, the options on the market need to reflect this. The hope is that by introducing development changes that streamline, simplify and reduce costs of alternative builds, such as a dual occupancy, more Australians will be able to live in a suitable home for their needs and budget (whether as a tenant or owner), faster than ever before. An outcome that Valley Homes fully supports.

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What do these changes mean for landowners and developers?

There are a number of changes in this new code that will reduce approval times, provide new opportunities for a property previously judged ‘too small’ or ‘too narrow’, and give homeowners and developers clear design guides that can help them bypass any unnecessary red-tape. The code is specifically designed to address building and approval conditions for one and two-storey dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces.

  1. Complying Approval in 20 days – with the new code in place, complying developments can be approved within 20 days, drastically reducing the amount of wait-time previously impacting building schedules, as well as financial arrangements. The NSW Planning & Environment website has more information on what specific building types will now qualify as a complying build.
  2. Smaller homes are possible on smaller lots – two main size requirements have changed when it comes to a dual occupancy council approval, that is, frontage minimum has been reduced from 15–20 metres (depending on your local council) to 12 metres. Narrow blocks of land are no-longer excluded from these types of developments, just as long as the overall square-meterage adds up. In relation to land size, the average block of land size required by council is now only 500 square metres.
  3. Clear design guidelines for faster approval – as part of this new housing code a detailed Low Rise Medium Density Housing Design Guide has been created. It outlines a number of aesthetic and functional design elements, which have been put together with the intention to maintain character of neighbourhoods and consistency of design. Two-storey height limits, as well as minimum and maximum plan requirements per dwelling-type, will ensure the complying approvals and subsequent builds provide quality housing solutions for Australians who are seeking alternatives to apartments and free-standing homes.

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How is a dual occupancy defined in this new housing code?

As dual occupancies are a sub-set of multi-dwelling building options it is important to know what is exactly meant by dual occupancy, especially as this will ensure investors, developers, and homeowners are provided the correct advice and council approvals for that of a dual occupancy. Not to be confused with a granny flat or duplex, which come under different guidelines. So, as stated on page 4 of the NSW Government Planning and Environment’s Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide, dual occupancy is defined as having two types:

  1. Dual occupancy (attached): 2 dwellings on one block of land that are attached to each other,
    but does not include a secondary dwelling.
  2. Dual occupancy (detached): 2 detached dwellings on one block of land, but does not include a secondary dwelling.

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What are your next steps to build a dual occupancy?

Talk to us. Taking advantage of these recent legislation changes will depend on whether your local council has a Local Environmental Plan (LEP) which already permits medium density developments. Part of our service to all home builders and developers is liaising with council and managing the entire approval process. This service includes preliminary site evaluations to ensure the intended land to be developed is suitable for a dual occupancy and that the proposal and plan complies with council requirements. Our team of Dual Occupancy experts know all about the local LEP guidelines and can give you all the answers you need to start your development journey with us.

For further information:

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