NSW has moved to quell the controversy provoked by a recent court ruling that would have dramatically raised the minimum floorspace requirements for apartments.
NSW will not increase apartment size requirements despite a controversial court ruling made in April which would have dramatically raised the minimum dimensions of residential units throughout the state.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes will override the ruling issued by the state’s Land and Environment Court in April calling for the adoption of an alternative set of guidelines for minimum apartment sizes, and instead confirm the existing “rule of thumb” standards that have long prevailed within the industry.
In a review of the planning guidelines scheduled for publication at the end of the month Stokes will confirm the sizes standards for smaller apartments as 35 square metres for studios, 50 square metres for single bedroom units, and 70 square metres for two bedroom apartments.
“This will provide certainty for the community and industry, and is consistent with approaches in other global cities like London, New York and Auckland,” said a spokesperson for Stokes. “If there is market demand, clearly apartments can be bigger than the minimum size.”
In addition to affirming the existing standards for units with two bedrooms or less, the review will also reduce the minimum floorspace requirement for three bedroom apartments from 95 square metres to 90 metres when they only have a single bathroom.
The ruling made in April by the NSW Land and Environmental Court had provoked uproar within the industry, with concerns raised over the potential confusion caused by the proposed changes and their impact upon housing affordability.
In the ruling issued on April 9 concerning Botany City Council v Botany Developments Pty Ltd (No 2) Justice Sheehan said that the “rules of thumb” of the Residential Flat Design Code that are generally employed were not the appropriate guideline for minimum apartment sizes.
According to the rules of thumb the recommended size for a single bedroom apartment is 50 square metres, 70 square metres for a two bedroom apartment and 95 metres for a three bedroom apartment.
Justice Sheehan instead pointed to an adjacent table in the Residential Flat Design Code as providing the correct minimum dimensions for apartments in the state.
The code’s table diverges significantly from the rules of thumb, advocating at least 58 square meres for a one bedroom apartment, 91 square metres for a two bedroom apartment, as well as a sizeable 53 additional square metres for three bedroom apartments.
Stokes’ decision to knock back the ruling arrives just as Victoria moves to introduce minimum floorspace requirements in order to combat the problem of cramped apartment developments throughout the state.
A new report from the Victorian government indicates that over three quarters of one-bedroom units under development in the state are 50 square metres or less in area.
This means that a sizeable percentage of Victorian apartments would be illegal to build in Sydney, where the minimum floorspace is 50 square metres for a single bedroom unit.