New NSW SEPP Legislation Now Live!

New NSW SEPP Legislation Now Live!

NEWS ( February 2014): As rumoured, the NSW Department of Planning has released it’s new SEPP Legislation (State Environmental Planning Policy) rules for 2014. The live document was officially released on Saturday 22nd February 2014 but didn’t go live until tonight (Monday 24th February 2014). The new SEPP sees a myriad of new changes to the Exempt and Complying Development SEPP and (to a lesser degree) the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP. This latter SEPP now works more closely (particularly in it’s definitions) and in combination with the ‘Exempt and Complying Development SEPP’.

Naturally, we’re mainly concerned with changes which affect you as a granny flat developer, so we’ll focus only on changes which affects granny flats and studios. There are a few relevant changes; some good and some not so good in our view.

Granny Flat SEPP Legislation

Granny Flat SEPP Legislation







The SEPP Legislation Changes

Amalgamated Sites are seen as one Site

Previous Rule: If you owned a parcel of land which contained two or more lots, the calculations for setbacks and distances were limited to each block of land. For example, if you owned a block of land which contained two smaller lots with two six-metre wide lots, you didn’t qualify under the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP legislation.

New Rule: You can now calculate the combination of lot-widths, site areas and other prescriptive together so the entire (combined) lot dimensions can be used to calculate setbacks. Previously this wasn’t allowed. The final point is that you still cannot build over an easement, like a drainage easement.

Ancillary Development Attached to a Granny Flat is now Allowed

Previous Rule: There was much confusion as to whether an attached structure (carport, garage, shed, patio, awning etc) could be approved as complying development, with many Council’s interpreting that only ‘exempt development’ structures could be attached to granny flats. This meant. for example that only a 20 sq m shed could be attqached and it had to have a height of 3 metres only. This created structural and aesthetic issues for the developer.

New Rule: You can attach larger complying development  ‘ancillary structures’ (garages, carports, sheds and the like) to a 60 sq. m granny flat. The attached structures must themselves  meet the general complying SEPP legislation such as minimum landscaping, adequate drainage and other controls, but they can be attached to  a granny flat with reasonable heights. If you’d like more clarity on this, feel free to call us!

No Minimum Site Area for Attached Granny Flats

Previous Rule: Under the old SEPP legislation, if your site was under 450 sq. m in area, you could only convert a portion within the existing dwelling house in to a granny flat. This meant you couldn’t extend your house to add an attached granny flat if the property was under 450 sq m in area.

New Rule: You can now extend your main dwelling to create an attached granny flat even if the site is less than 450 square meters. The new SEPP also goes on to say that you can erect a new primary dwelling and include a granny flat, whether attached, within or detached from the main dwelling at the same time and under one single complying development certificate application. So if you have a vacant block or wish to do a knock-down and rebuild, you can build a new house and granny flat as one approval.

Granny Flats and Ancillary Developments now allowed closer to Parallel Roads

Previous Rule: Previously, granny flats, studios or other ancillary development were not allowed closer to a boundary facing a parallel road than the prevailing setbacks of the adjoining two dwellings. This meant if you wanted to build a granny flat in your back yard, you couldn’t build it closer to the rear boundary than the houses next door.

New Rule: Now, you can build a granny flat, detached studio or other ancillary development 3 metres from the rear boundary.

Detached Studios Sizes Reduced

Previous Rule: There were no maximum sizes for detached studios. Where a lot adjoined a laneway, you could build a studio between 45 sq. m to 100 sq. m depending on lot size.

New Rule: Detached studios can be a maximum of 35 square meters only. There are some positive changes for inner-city developers wanting a detached studio above an existing garage or built to the rear boundary though. Call us if you’re interested in this type of development!


Other SEPP Legislation Changes

There are other SEPP legislation changes which we’ll study over the coming days and weeks and add to this list as we find them. Should be a lot of fun.

We hope this breaking news article gives you a heads-up on the changes in effect across NSW and Sydney. At Granny Flats Sydney, we work hard to keep you updated on all rules and SEPP legislation as it applies to granny flats and studios for all developers and builders.

Please feel free to call us if you’d like to discuss these changes or any granny flat questions you may have. Finally, the Department of Planning has released the interactive  ‘Electronic Housing Code’. At the time of writing this article, it works but has no usability for granny flat developments; only general housing.

See THIS ARTICLE’S related links below:




Warm Regards,

Founder – Granny Flats Sydney NSW Pty Ltd

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5 replies on New NSW SEPP Legislation Now Live!

  • Rodger says:


    I just wanted to know if ancillary structures can still be attached to a granny flat.

    Clause 3.5 of the SEPP (exempt and complying development) 2008, stipulates that ancillary development cannot be attached to a secondary dwelling

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Rodger,

      They can indeed and there is much confusion over this regulation.
      Any Complying Development ‘ancillary structure’ as listed in the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP can be attached. The permitted structures are:
      – an awning, blind or canopy,
      – a balcony, deck, patio, pergola, terrace or veranda
      – a carport
      – a garage

      Serge Panayi

      (k) a swimming pool or spa pool and child-resistant barrier.

  • Niall d'Christopher says:

    Hi, Wanted to consider building a ‘granny flat’ above a new, existing garage, at the rear of a property in North Sydney (Arthur Lane, Lavender zoned R3 – Residential 3 story limit). See council zoning map (LZN_002A) at:
    It is underneath the shadow of the railway viaduct between Milsons Point and North Sydney Railway stations. 5 of the 6 Arthur Street properties backing onto Arthur Lane have garages opening onto this ‘no through road’ laneway.
    My question is, before wasting any money, and anyone elses time on exploring it, is such a development permissable. My existing garage was completed in 2015 and was of steel construction sufficient to go up one story in anticipation of such a possible development.

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Niall,

      Maximum height is the restrictive operand of the State SEPP, followed by minimum lot size (450 sq m) and lot width (12 m). If your lot meets the SEPP requirements you should be ok because you have a laneway at the rear.
      If the site doesn’t qualify, a DA/CC is the only pathway and there are NO GUARANTEES with this approach. I’d approach Council directly about the chances of an approval here (if the land doesn’t meet the SEPP) – you can view our SEPP Approval Guide here:

      An over-the-counter meeting with Council could be very helpful if you want to avoid unnecessary costs up front.


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