1Minister for Planning Pru Goward today announced new planning guidelines for apartment design in NSW, which could see the cost of a new apartment slashed by up to $50,000.

Ms Goward said the proposed changes were part of the NSW Government’s continued efforts to put downward pressure on house prices, provide more housing choice and better reflect changing consumer preferences.

“The population of NSW is changing – single-person households are the fastest-growing dwelling type and by 2031 one in five people living in NSW will be aged 65 and over,” Ms Goward said.

“This means the type of homes our State needs into the future is also changing, with more and more people choosing apartment living with the lifestyle benefits it delivers.

“In fact, research has shown only 41 per cent of Sydneysiders would choose to live in a detached house, but this type of housing currently makes up 62 per cent of Sydney housing stock.

“We need to do more to meet the needs of the community and close this gap.”

Ms Goward said the NSW Government’s record investment in better public transport is giving Sydneysiders more choice in where they want to live and how they get around.

“The closer people live to public transport hubs, the less likely they are to rely on cars,” Ms Goward said.

“A car space can add up to $50,000 to the cost of a new apartment, so providing more flexibility around car parking requirements could lead to savings of up to the same amount for homebuyers.

“Importantly, this change is restricted only to particular councils, applies only to development within close walking distance of transport services, and strongly discourages councils from allowing residents of these buildings to receive street parking permits.”

Updates to the policy and apartment design guidelines include:

· Ensuring every new apartment has a balcony and access to well designed and functional shared open space
· Allowing no car spaces in new apartment buildings in certain council areas* within 400 metres of a transport hub like a train station or light rail stop
· Greater protections from noise in surrounding areas
· More flexibility around design to suit particular sites
· Independent design experts to provide advice to councils

· Extension of the policy to include mixed used and shop-top housing

· A minimum size of 35m2 for studio apartments
· New sections dealing with the adaptive reuse of buildings to apartments

· Certainty and consistency around standards

“Apartment living should not mean that quality is sacrificed – and that is what our changes ensure by setting minimum standards for communal open space, light, air and privacy,” Ms Goward said.

“It’s all part of planning for a growing NSW – ensuring home quality and choice to meet demand while helping to maintain important quality of life.”

Ms Goward said the proposed changes come on top of other measures the NSW Government has undertaken to boost housing affordability and choice.

“This Government has kick-started the housing industry, with a 50 per cent increase in new home approvals in the 2013-14 financial year compared to the year before and more than 100,000 new homes built since we came to office,” Ms Goward said

“Our expansion of fast-track complying development mean families can now save up to $7,000 on the cost of building a new home.

“And we are helping first home buyers break into the market by increasing the threshold for the First Home Buyers’ Grant to $750,000.”

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