Small Homes Design Guide

GANSW wanted to congratulate you on a great workshop presentation which stimulated fascinating and engaged discussion. I certainly learned a lot and it was spiriting to hear supportive and thoughtful comments. We thought there was general open-mindedness to the concept of small lot housing and a concerted effort to think of ways to make it work. So well done!

Panov—Scott was engaged by the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to collaboratively develop a key piece of housing policy that informs state-wide urban and regional planning. The project was undertaken with input from GLN Planning, Government Architect NSW, the development industry and local governments.

The intent of the policy was to encourage the uptake of small lot housing in urban expansion areas as an alternative to large lot detached dwellings where land values tend to prohibit the establishment of medium rise apartment buildings. This is a crucial part in the urban/suburban housing ecosystem, conducive to the evolving density/vibrancy of both existing and newly established local centres. 

This policy seeks to enable greater housing affordability via lower land costs. Though those savings are partially offset via higher development costs associated with more finely tuned construction and longer divestment timeframes for the settlement of the combined land and house package, the result remains attractive to both industry and communities.

The guidance framework was modelled on an evolution of the Apartment Design Guide and the Medium Density Low Rise Design Guide, which inform development assessment via local councils and state-wide complying development respectively.

Our role was in leading stakeholder workshops to enable the cohesive evolution of the policy with input and enfranchisement of the many diverse groups who expressed an interest in the process. We undertook precedent analysis, benchmarking of similar policy, including jurisdictional review. We established draft design criteria and development controls, then undertook comprehensive design testing of the criteria/controls. We developed the language, explanatory diagrams and illustrative imagery to make a clear and precise piece of design guidance.

The work has informed the development of NSW state environmental planning policy and in the time since we have consulted to planning departments in other states including Western Australia and Victoria to contribute to the formulation of strategic policy innovations.