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Low-rise Medium-density Housing Code

The Low-rise Medium-density Housing Code, otherwise known as the ‘Missing Middle’ Code, aims to streamline the approvals process and reduce costs for applicants, potentially saving up to $15,000 when compared to the costs of a development application. It also intends to provide more housing choice for consumers, which may lead to improvements in housing affordability.

In this article

  • The purpose of the Code
  • Housing types under the Code
  • How the Code will work
  • Lot sizes
  • Development standards
  • Low-rise Medium-density Design Guide for Complying Development

The purpose of the Code 

The Low-rise Medium-density Housing Code is included in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the SEPP) as Part 3B, and permits some new one- and two-storey medium-density homes to be approved as complying development within 20 days. Approval is by a council or an accredited certifier. 

Housing types under the Code 

The Code allows for three housing types as complying development: 

  • dual occupancies (side-by-side, either attached or detached) 
  • manor houses and dual occupancies (one above the other) 
  • multi-dwelling houses (terraces). 

Dual occupancies are two dwellings on one lot and can be detached or attached. 

A manor house is a building containing 3–4 dwellings on one lot of land and can be up to two storeys in height (excluding any basement). Each dwelling is attached by a common wall or floor and at least one dwelling is partially located above another dwelling. 

Multi-dwelling housing (terraces) is three or more dwellings on one lot. Each dwelling fronts a public road and there are no other dwellings located above or below. 

How the Code will work 

Low-rise medium-density housing as complying development is permissible in R1, R2, R3 and RU5 zones where councils already allow it under their Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Some exclusions do apply, including: 

  • state or locally listed heritage items and heritage conservation areas 
  • land reserved for public purposes

environmentally sensitive areas and areas excluded by councils (based on local circumstances). 

 Lot sizes

The development must meet the minimum lot size requirements as follows: 


  • Dual occupancy – the size of the lot being developed must meet the minimum lot size required to build a dual occupancy under the relevant council LEP. If the LEP does not specify a minimum lot size, the Code applies a minimum 400m2 lot size
  • Manor houses – a minimum 600m2 lot size requirement applies 

Terraces – the size of the lot being developed must meet the minimum lot size required to build multi-dwelling housing under the relevant council LEP. If the LEP does not specify a minimum lot size, the Code applies a minimum 600m2 lot size. 

 Development standards 

The Code sets the development standards (controls) for each low-rise medium-density housing type. Summary tables of the development standards are available, as follows: 

Low Rise Housing Diversity Design for Complying Development Guide

The Low Rise Housing Diversity Design Guide for Complying Development Guide is available to assist councils when assessing development applications for dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces. 

The Code includes a requirement to prepare a Design Verification Statement to promote good design outcomes. The Design Verification Statement must be prepared by a qualified designer (registered architect) or building designer accredited with the Building Designers Association of Australia. 

To find out more, contact HIA’s Planning and Environment team.

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