NSW Planning Reform: Dual Occupancies

(posted on 27 Feb 2024)

Among many different components in the recently announced NSW planning reforms, there are changes being proposed to both permissibility and lot eligibility for dual occupancies. These changes have not gotten as much attention as the higher density changes, but they have the potential to be just as impactful on loosening planning restrictions to increase housing supply.

(See our previous articles in the series on NSW planning reform. If you are interested in this type of analysis and would like to obtain some of the raw data or request additional analysis, please contact us.)

UPDATE - request an instant analysis for your specific property here!

UPDATE 2 - the dual occupancy permissibility changes were gazetted on 1 July 2024, read more here.

Proposal Details

Dual occupancies are currently permitted in many residential zones in NSW Local Environmental Plans (LEPs). However, within the Diverse and Well Located Homes set of proposals, the NSW Govt is aiming to make dual occupancies permissible in every R2 zone across the state. Our earlier analysis found that this permissibility change would affect approximately 188,000 lots statewide, as compared to 1.15 million lots in R2 zones that already had permissibility.

But there is another important detail in the proposed new rules. In addition to changes to permissibility and height and floor space ratio (FSR) limits, the proposal also calls for a new minimum lot size of 450 sqm for dual occupancy development. This would override any similar LEP rule that sets a higher minimum lot size for dual occupancies. Existing LEP rules requiring sizes of less than 450 sqm would not be overridden by the new rule as they are less restrictive.

Determining the Impact

Unless one knows what minimum lot sizes are currently specified in existing LEP rules, it’s quite difficult to understand what impact the proposed value of 450 sqm would have. At PropCode we do have all of these rules stored in our database, because they drive our CDC analysis tool which depends on these particular LEP rules. We also have data for every lot in the state including its area, and finally we have existing permissibility by LEP and zone.

Let’s put this all together to find out what the impact of the new rule would be. We can consider only lots of at least 450 sqm as smaller lots won’t be affected by the rule. We know that proposed new permissibility will apply to all lots in R2 zone so we will include those. We also want to consider lots in other zones where dual occupancy is permissible, because the new minimum lot size rule would apply to all zones, not just R2.

Here are the results by LGA:

LGAMin Lot Size RulesCurrently Eligible for Dual OccNew by Lot SizeNew by Permissibility
Bayside 16,71300
Blue Mountains900-11002,415+5,2280
Canada Bay45010,12600
Fairfield 40,71600
Georges River65010,402+16,6620
Hornsby 2,3280+34,066
Hunters Hill700-9001,733+1,4200
Inner West 20+6,739
Ku-ring-gai 00+25,200
Lane Cove750-9001,721+4,0500
Mosman 1,3950+1,346
Northern Beaches80010,378+4,974+30,047
North Sydney4503,57400
Sydney 3,82200
The Hills500-10000035,710+9,4470
Waverley 3,44400
TOTAL SYDNEY 475,239+137,807+134,924

Impact Insights

Most LGAs in the Sydney metro have some form of minimum lot size rule for dual occupancy, often with different values by zone or by attached/detached dual occupancy. (Note this includes Growth Centres where a SEPP provides the equivalent of an LEP.) Only 8 LGAs have no LEP rules at all for minimum lot size for dual occupancy. In total there are nearly half a million lots of at least 450 sqm where dual occupancy is currently permissible and eligible by lot size, ignoring any other rules or considerations. 

When the new blanket minimum lot size rule of 450 sqm is applied with current zone permissibility, 138,000 lots would become eligible for dual occupancy that were previously excluded by lot size. On top of that, another 135,000 lots in R2 zones would gain permissibility for dual occupancy. That means these reforms would extend eligibility to build dual occupancy to 273,000 more lots across Sydney metro than at present.

Georges River and Penrith LGAs have the greatest gains in lot count for dual occupancy eligibility due to the new minimum lot size rule. Some LGAs including Blue Mountains, Lane Cove, Willoughby, and Blue Mountains would see their eligible lot count more than double. Interestingly, the majority of the impact of permissibility changes for dual occupancy occur in northern Sydney in Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai, and Northern Beaches.

About PropCode

Be sure to take a look at our Property and Planning Data page to contact us if you are interested in getting this data or similar analysis, made possible by our extensive database of property and planning info.

As mentioned, our CDC tool already uses these minimum lot size rules to determine CDC eligibility for residential projects. And our Library tool also helps users get answers by easily reading planning documents to find relevant rules, including all SEPPs, LEPs, and DCPs across NSW.