An Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the draft Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (D&P SEPP) has been released for public consultation and is expected to streamline the delivery of good design in NSW.
- The D&P SEPP is intended to be a single reference point for design considerations associated with development in NSW and will introduce new mandatory relevant considerations for development applications (DAs), in particular relating to resilience, public space and liveability.
- It will subsume parts of the current State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 – Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development (SEPP 65) and will incorporate and repeal all requirements in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Building Sustainability Index: BASIX) 2004 (BASIX SEPP).
- Public consultation on the draft D&P SEPP closes 31 March 2021.
Purpose of the D&P SEPP
The D&P SEPP is intended to be a single reference point for design considerations associated with development in NSW.
It will establish the following five principles for design and assessment of places in NSW:
- Design places with beauty and character – to encourage attractive built environments which consider local character, heritage and culture.
- Design inviting public spaces – to encourage high quality public spaces which foster active lifestyles and local connections.
- Design productive and connected places – to facilitate places with sufficient densities to sustain active transport connections.
- Design sustainable and greener places – to encourage environmentally sustainable places which reduce emissions and use water, energy and materials efficiently.
- Design resilient and diverse places – to ensure places can adapt and respond to challenges such as climate change and create neighbourhoods which facilitate inclusive communities and ageing in place.
The EIE for the proposed D&P SEPP sets out that considerations of Country will be prioritised. The EIE contemplates that all development will have regard to Connecting with Country – A draft framework for understanding the value of Aboriginal knowledge in the design and planning of spaces (GANSW 2020), which will provide a framework for developing connections with Country to inform planning and design of development in New South Wales.
The D&P SEPP will also seek to implement lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, as reflected in a number of the new mandatory considerations discussed below.
D&P SEPP will apply to most planning pathways
The D&P SEPP will apply to most planning pathways in NSW, in particular:
- development applications (where local councils are the consent authority), State significant development and State significant infrastructure (where the D&P SEPP is applicable) will be required to demonstrate how design considerations relevant to the proposal have been satisfied; and
- gateway assessments will also be required to consider relevant principles under the D&P SEPP.
Whether the D&P SEPP will apply to assessments under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EP&A Act) will be confirmed at a later date.
D&P SEPP will consolidate and introduce new design and place considerations
The D&P SEPP will consolidate existing considerations and introduce new mandatory relevant considerations under section 4.15 of the EP&A Act.
- Local living – all housing in urban areas of new precincts is to be within a 20 minute walk of local shops, a 5 minute walk of local public open space and, where possible, within a 20 minute walk of primary schools, district open spaces, public transport and supermarkets.
- Public space – there is to be equitable distribution of accessible and well-designed public space, with no net loss of public space.
- Resilience – developments must take an integrated approach to site-specific risks and must have strategies to reduce or avoid occupants’ vulnerability to those risks, particularly bushfire, flooding, extreme heat and coastal erosion.
- Activation – there must be non-residential activation on a minimum percentage of frontage of site facing activity streets.
The D&P SEPP will also introduce a requirement that developments that are three or more storeys or have open space over 1,000m2 must be designed by a suitably qualified professional (being, a registered architect, registered landscape architect and/or qualified designer).
D&P SEPP to consolidate existing instruments
The D&P SEPP will also change or repeal certain existing instruments, including:
- SEPP 65: design review, panels and application of the Apartment Design Guide (ADG) will continue to apply under SEPP 65. However, the D&P SEPP will subsume SEPP 65 in a number of ways, including by:
- replacing the SEPP 65 design quality principles with the principles under the D&P SEPP; and
- removing precinct-scale considerations from the ADG and guidance for development control plans.
- BASIX SEPP: the BASIX SEPP will be repealed and all provisions transferred to the D&P SEPP.
Following public consultation, the D&P SEPP will be updated and exhibited again in late 2021, with the aim of being finalised by the end of 2021.
By Peter Briggs, Partner, Tom Dougherty, Senior Associate and Brigitte Rheinberger, Solicitor.
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