Change is coming to NSW. A new state government initiative to combat the housing crisis has outlined rezoning key transport hubs across Greater Sydney and NSW. The policy mandates local councils to green-light more development applications (DA) for currently prohibited housing types like townhouses and apartments.


Architects and town planners prepared for this shift can play a big role in driving the construction wave in local communities. Learn more about the NSW rezoning changes, the variety of housing options and how to navigate the environmental considerations.

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The land rezoning changes coming to NSW


The government has introduced a two-tier Transport Oriented Development (TOD) program to combat the housing shortage in NSW. Tier one ‘accelerated precincts’ would see rezoning of low-density areas to medium density and allow flat building within 1,200 metres of 8 key transport hubs, supporting nearly 50,000 new homes. Priority locations are Homebush and Hornsby, followed by other ‘Accelerated Precincts’ including Bankstown, Bays West, Bella Vista, Crows Nest, Kellyville, and Macquarie Park. 

The second tier entails a rapid ‘snap rezoning’ of 31 additional strategic transport locations to pave the way for another 140,000 potential homes. These areas include Adamstown, Ashfield, Banksia, Berala, Booragul, Canterbury, Corrimal, Croydon, Dapto, Dulwich Hill, Gordon, Gosford, Hamilton, Killara, Kogarah, Kotara, Lidcombe, Lindfield, Marrickville, Morisset, Newcastle Interchange, North Strathfield Metro, North Wollongong, Rockdale, Roseville, St Marys Metro, Teralba, Tuggerah, Turrella, Wiley Park and Wyong.

Only 2 of the 32 transport hubs identified will currently permit medium-density dwellings such as terraces and two-story apartments. Rezoning to medium-density zoning in these critical areas will bring significant change and boost the demand for apartments, duplexes and townhouses. This adjustment will help NSW accommodate population growth in traditionally low-density regions and address evolving community requirements.

These initiatives present an unique opportunity for major builders and developers, granting access to a new State Significant Development Pathway for projects exceeding $60 million and can start within two years of approval.

Takeaway: under the proposal, local councils are mandated to allow medium density developments that comply with DA guidelines. This includes a comprehensive environmental investigation report and adherence to specific criteria like heritage preservation. A Preliminary and Detailed Site Investigation from a certified environmental consultant will significantly fast-track approvals.

Unlocking new dwelling types in NSW Rezoning


As the NSW government fine-tunes its master plan, it’s important to recognise that the rezoning will permit a variety of previously restricted dwelling types. These new residential dwellings include:

  • Duplexes/dual occupancies across all low-density (R2) zones in NSW.
  • Terraces, townhouses, manor houses, and two-storey apartments in low-density R2 zones, strategically located near transport hubs and town centres.
  • Mid-rise apartment blocks within R3 medium-density zones and designated employment zones, ideally situated to offer housing within an 800-metre (or roughly a ten-minute walk) radius of transport facilities, shopping, and amenities.

To complement these housing initiatives, the government plans to allocate $520 million to Tier One Accelerated Precincts for infrastructure enhancements, including:

  • Entertainment hubs including restaurants and cafes. 
  • Upgrades to critical roads and transport links. 
  • Expansion of public open spaces. 

Infrastructure upgrades will make train station hubs more convenient and accessible to the public, cultivating Central Business Districts around these key locations.

Takeaway: discuss with clients the potential for dual dwellings offered by these rezoning efforts. Explore infrastructure development opportunities. If a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) has been conducted, inform clients of dual dwelling possibilities. Partner with an experienced local environmental firm that can help you meet Council requirements.


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Navigating council and environmental needs of NSW rezoning


The rezonings are set to significantly alter the Development Application (DA) process with local councils. Changes made to the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) would mean all NSW municipalities must follow state rules. This would override council power to reject new DAs for medium density dwellings, unless they met specific criteria like heritage listing. 

Traditional grounds for DA rejections, such as building height or view obstruction, will no longer hold merit. To facilitate smoother approvals, the government is preparing to introduce a ‘pattern book’ in 2024, showcasing building designs eligible for fast-tracked approval processes.

Proactively assessing the environmental condition of land will be crucial for architects and town planners to capitalise on these new development opportunities. Addressing and remediating land contamination early on will streamline land validation for rezoning purposes.

Takeaway: Stay informed about which building designs will qualify for expedited approvals to enhance client service efficiency. Initiating a Hazardous Materials Survey (HMS) or Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) now for potential dual occupancy developments can help clients consider their range of options

NEO Consulting helps you prepare for change


Sydney’s dense population demands adequate housing to facilitate community expansion. As your local environmental service provider, NEO Consulting boasts extensive experience in complying with council requirements across all Tier One Accelerated Precincts. Our qualified team delivers fast turnaround of Preliminary Site Investigations (PSI), Detailed Site Investigations (DSI), Remediation Action Plans, Environmental Management Plans and more. We’re ready to get your projects environmentally approved and moving forward. 


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