No Increase in the Size of NSW Apartments 2

Friday, May 15th, 2015
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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.

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  1. Robert Emerald

    Much as these type of living arrangements do appear cramped, these micro style apartments may be suitable for some who are prepared to cede greater comfort in order to live closer to the CBD. This decision, therefore is probably a good thing.

    That said, notwithstanding housing affordability challenges, minimum apartment sizes do have their place.

    • Keong Soh

      So far there has not been any information on what constitutes the size of an apartment. From my deduction of sizes advertised of units, the garage/parking space seems to be included. Not sure if the balcony is included as they tend to be a smaller percentage of the total. With a 50sqm unit, 13sqm of garage space is significant. So are we left with 37sqm of living space. Why does the garage have to be included in the total floor space as they are now mostly in the basement. Seems to me there needs to be a lot more discussion on Floor Space Ratio (FSR) allowed and this is dictated by the measure number of people/hectare. We will have to live in garages soon!. Simply by not including (not sure if it is btw) will release 13sqm for living. Not bad for one stroke of the pen.