NSW Pattern Book of Housing Design


NSW Pattern Book of Housing Design


Ruby Burns





NSW Pattern Book of Housing Design

NSW DPHI Pattern Book of Housing Design offers endorsed building designs that allow for an accelerated planning approval pathway.

NSW Pattern Book of Housing Design

In a nationwide race to address the housing crisis, State Planning Departments have released various solutions to fast-track application processes and get builders on-site faster and people into new homes sooner.

One option by the NSW Department of Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure (DPHI) is the ‘Pattern Book of Housing Design’ which is not dissimilar to Victoria’s Future Homes initiative.

Victorias Future Homes initiative is run by the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) and allows developers to use ready-made architectural designs for small apartment buildings up to three storeys in the General Residential Zone (GRZ). Future Homes permit applications can only be made in the GRZ if the site is:

  • within 800 metres of a passenger train station, or
  • within 800 metres of an identified activity centre in Metropolitan Melbourne, or
  • within 800 metres of an identified activity centre outside of Metropolitan Melbourne.

Future Homes was initially adopted in select areas in 2021 and extended Statewide under the Victorian Housing Statement for The Decade Ahead (2024-2034) in September 2023.

NSW DPHI is following suit by developing a pattern book of endorsed building designs for low and mid-rise housing and apartment buildings of up to six storeys. The pattern book offers applicants a ‘buy in’ to an accelerated approval pathway under Complying Development for low-rise housing and Local Development Application (DA) for mid-rise housing.

Complying Development is regulated by the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) and is a combined planning and construction approval process determined through a fast-track assessment by either a Council or an accredited certifier.

The pattern book proposes a palette of c.40-60 standardised layouts for low-rise housing and mid-rise apartment buildings up to six storeys. It is not clear how the pathway facilitates alterations to the purchased layouts (like Future Homes); however, the policy release suggests that development designs outside the templates may go through the regular approval process.

The pattern book is already under scrutiny as it appears to ignore the underlying and complicated issue of local politics in delaying approvals in retaining Councils as the Consent Authority for mid-rise apartment buildings.

Ultimately, the pattern book is one creative solution to the multi-faceted housing crisis. However, NSW planning application pathways are already overly regulated and complex, and the introduction of another layer of regulation moves further away from simplifying the NSW planning system.

Government Architect NSW (GANSW) is currently developing a proof-of-concept for a pattern book that will go on public exhibition in early to mid-2024.

More information can be found here.