No additional obstacles face the introduction of a code that will facilitate the construction of terraces and medium-density residences, states NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes.

Despite the enactment two years ago of the medium-density housing code, the policy’s introduction met a stalemate when 45 councils requested deferrals until July; a request granted by the government.

The policy is meant to quicken the approval process for ‘missing middle homes’ like terraces and manor houses, where one building consists of three to four residences.

Stokes advised those assembled at a budget estimates hearing that certain councils had requested deferrals in order to ready planning proposals, but had yet to finish them. He advises that these deferrals will close 1 July. 

Labor’s planning spokesman, Adam Searle, countered that the decision to enforce the code in local government areas where the code had been deferred displayed a disregard for communities and councils. He requested that Stokes proceed with the deferred implementation of this policy until councils have the opportunity to resolve these issues individually.

More than 20 councils have yet to present a planning proposal to the department for assessment, 21 months following the beginning of the grace period.

Councils requested the deferrals so they could ready planning proposals for their regions. They asserted that the medium-density code, once introduced, would render “unintended consequences” in low-density residential zones.

The regions of Camden, Central Coast, Georges River, Campbelltown, Randwick, Sutherland and Lane Cove councils have seen their planning proposals approved by the NSW Planning Department.

Stokes asserted that the department was advancing proposals by other councils that conceived what they perceived as a better means of achieving the mission of a broader diversity of housing supply—one custom designed to adhere to their regions.

Planning Department deputy secretary Marcus Ray asserted that the councils’ concerns relied on their underlying planning controls, as the code would overlay the zoning every time.

Councils had designed their planning proposals to address issues like the permissibility of specific development types in the code within lower-density residential zones, while others concerned minimum lot sizes in developments.