16 November 2023

The Minns Labor Government will help deliver more desperately needed homes for families by fast-tracking buildings that choose to use high-quality, pre-approved designs – speeding up the construction of homes for buyers and renters.

The Government is developing a pattern book of endorsed housing designs for both low-rise and mid-rise (up to six storeys) buildings.


The NSW Government Architect, Abbie Galvin, is leading a process of developing the pre-approved list of designs, alongside established private-sector architects, as well as the community, as part of a comprehensive consultation process.


As part of this process, the Government will launch an international competition, calling on Australian and international architects and architecture schools to design a best-practice Sydney terrace and mid-rise apartment for the 21st century. The winning designs will be included in the pattern book.


Details of the competition will be announced in early 2024.


Developers who choose to adopt the endorsed pattern book designs will have an accelerated approval pathway – meaning builders can get on site faster, and people can move into new homes sooner.


The Minns Government is working hard to change the trajectory on the long-term housing supply crisis it inherited.


NSW has been completing fewer new builds (on a per person basis) than Victoria or Queensland. NSW last year also recorded fewer overall completions than Victoria – despite NSW’s higher population.


The housing supply shortfall is behind Sydney unit rents increasing by 24 per cent over the year to the end of September 2023, along with house rents lifting by 11 per cent.


The development of low-rise and mid-rise terraces and apartments will support density in well-located pockets of Sydney – close to transport, green space, amenities and jobs.


The pattern book will include both low-rise housing (terraces, semis, manor houses), along with apartment buildings of up to six storeys. This signals greater role for low-rise, such as a new generation of Sydney terraces. 


These endorsed designs will be made specifically for Sydney and New South Wales and will include different styles of housing.


The modern homes will be made for NSW’s climate, allow for natural light, and look to include community spaces, allowing residents to still enjoy a barbeque and a makeshift game of cricket or footy, for example.


The Government Architect is leading the process and working with the best minds in the development and construction industry, the planning and architecture profession, and councils.


While this pathway will be attractive for some developers, it will not be compulsory; builders and their architects can still design bespoke developments that will go through the regular approval pathway.


The Government wants the community involved in this process, with the public able to view draft designs and provide feedback.


In addition to the pattern book and design competition for low-rise and medium-rise dwellings, the Government will also help developers of high-rise apartments to get building sooner.


Commencing with well-located places supported by transport infrastructure, the NSW Government will allow developers of high-rise to select a designer from a list pre-approved by the NSW Government Architect. This new process will allow developers to bypass the current requirement to run a design competition, slashing assessment times by between 6-12 months.


This will ensure speed and design excellence, and the Government will later consider this approach for high-rise developments across the state.


Premier of NSW Chris Minns said:


“The NSW Government wants to ensure the future homes and apartments of Sydney are world class.


“We want to see building designs that embrace what we love about Sydney and NSW.


“I’ve heard builders and other stakeholders explain some of the long approval times they encounter.


“What I’ve announced today is the start of addressing those delays.”


Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:


“Despite being in the top 30 cities in the world by GDP, Sydney ranks 859th in the world when it comes to density.


“We want homes and buildings fit for 21st century Sydney. And we want them fast.


“This gives developers certainty and will make sure more homes are delivered. 


“Increasing density in well-located and well-connected parts of Sydney is a key part of the NSW Government’s housing plan.


“We want to ensure density is done well, and this package will ensure that happens.