Precincts of mid-rise apartment complexes in Sydney which bring ‘the character of Paris’ to the city and are approved within 30 days could become a reality if a new code is adopted.

Unveiling a two-page Complying Code for mid-rise apartments of six to eight storeys, Urban Taskforce acknowledges that large multi-residential complexes will always form part of the city’s housing mix and that longer approval time frames are needed for these, but says medium-sized blocks of six to eight storeys will form a crucial part of the challenge in accommodating future population growth, and that faster approval times than are currently the case are needed to encourage more of this type of dwelling.

“The NSW Government has a housing code that encourages two storey houses through quick ten day planning approvals,” Urban Taskforce chief executive officer Chris Johnson said. “With Sydney’s projected population growth requiring a doubling of the number of homes over the next 50 years, we must encourage more mid-rise apartments as a major component of housing such large growth.

“We cannot rely only on two storey houses so a mid-rise apartment code with 30 day approvals will be needed.”

Describing them as a ‘third way’ between two storey houses and skyscraper apartment complexes, Johnson said mid-sized apartment buildings in places like Paris and Barcelona are renowned for their consistent street edge scale and are visited by tourists from around the world.

He said many of the three storey walk-ups built across the city throughout the 1960s and 70s are becoming outdated, and mid-rise apartments not only offer family friendly features such as an ability to supervise children in a common garden but also blend into the landscape by coming in below the height of the canopy of gum trees.

Requiring buildings to be designed by qualified architects and outlining rules for setback, height, landscape, parking, apartment size, solar access and the need for design reviews, the two-page code would send a signal from the government that it supported this building type and would respect the context and amenity of neighbours whilst requiring an expert to deliver a quality result, the Taskforce argues.

It says the implementation of such a code with 30-day approval time frames was consistent with the current focus on complying development principles which specify that communities should be involved in early strategic planning that sets an overall character for a given neighbourhood but that individual development applications which fit within the community plan (in suitably zoned areas) enjoy a streamlined approval process.

“The planning system does not need vast volumes of complex rules,” Johnson said. “Without a code like the one we have proposed, the street by street battles over every project will frustrate the development industry and leave the community with no certainty.”