Proposed Changes to State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009

26 FEB 2019


The Department of Planning and Environment has released proposed amendments to State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (“the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP”) relating to boarding houses.

The Affordable Rental Housing SEPP provides a State-wide planning framework for the assessment of certain affordable housing developments, including in-fill affordable housing, secondary dwellings, boarding houses and group homes.

The Affordable Housing SEPP makes boarding houses permissible in a range of zones, including Zone R2 Low Density Residential. However, pursuant to clause 27(2) and (3) of the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP, boarding houses can only be approved in Zone R2 Low Density Residential in locations:

  • close to public transport services where the location is situated within the Sydney region (in a defined accessible area), or
  • within 400 metres walking distance of Zone B2 Local Centre or Zone B4 Mixed Use where the located is situated outside of the Sydney region.

Clause 30A of the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP states that a consent authority must not consent to a boarding house development unless it has taken into consideration whether the design of the proposed development is compatible with the local area.

The Department has undertaken a review of recent boarding house development applications and Land and Environment Court judgments and conducted consultation with local government organisations and communities. 

Council and community feedback has expressed that the built form of larger boarding house proposals can be fundamentally incompatible with the typical and expected scale of development within Zone R2 Low Density Residential, regardless of whether compliance is otherwise achieved with other planning controls such as height and floor space ratio limits.  

In order to facilitate the development of boarding houses in Zone R2 Low Density Residential that are compatible with the character of the residential density expected of that zone, the Department proposes to amend the boarding house provisions in the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP to include a new provision stating that a boarding house proposed within Zone R2 Low Density Residential can consist of no more than 12 boarding rooms. 

The Department has released an Explanation of Intended Effect explaining the proposed amendments which is accessible on their website. 

The proposed amendments were subject to public exhibition from 28 November 2019 to 19 December 2018. The Department is now considering the feedback received during public exhibition. 

For further information on these planning and environmental law updates, please contact Adam Seton on or David Baird on 

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.


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