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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52 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.


  • David Newling says:

    Can I build a larger than 60sq on a 25 acre property
    I live in Wilton NSW, Woolondily shire council

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi David,

      Not under the State SEPP for granny flats.
      Most Councils only allow what you want (>60 sq m, detached on rural land) if attached to the main dwelling. I haven’t applied to Wollondilly Council for a granny flat on rural land but a quick call (4677-1100) is a very good idea here. Let me know what they say! Serge

  • DDS says:

    We want to build in Schofields under blacktown council, single story house on 373 sqm land, can we have attached Granny flat on this land size if our design accommodate and we meet all other set back requirements ?

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi DDS,

      The site area of your land must be 450 sq m or more IF DETACHED from the main dwelling but since you wish to ATTACH the new granny flat to the main dwelling, you are certainly permitted to build it. A fire rated wall is the most important requirement for attached granny flats. The setback requirements for granny flats can be found here:


      • DDS says:

        Thanks Serge,
        Is this granny flat can approve as dual occupancy and can we rent it out separately with all utility meter separate ?

        • Serge Panayi says:

          You’re very welcome.
          OK. It can be rented out, yes but it’s not described as a “dual occupancy” although a ‘secondary dwelling’ is, in essence a dual occupancy. Many Council’s refer to “dual occ” as one which can be subdivided and separately sold, which a granny flat is not able to be.


          • DDS says:

            Hi Serge,
            Thanks for feedback, If it is not dual occupancy, can we still have separate electricity , water & gas metering? as we would be renting out both house & granny flat.

          • Serge Panayi says:


            Infrastructure services are not regulated by Council nor Planning NSW. There are no regulations about separating services so they are not mandated as part of a granny flat approval.
            So, this is a personal preference which most people do opt for, especially for rental purposes. Note for internet access though that ISP’s (Telstra and Optus) wont connect a second cable internet connection but ADSL is fine as this is just a second phone line which is permitted with most of the phone companies.

      • DDS says:

        Hi Serge,

        Would you please able to send me link of the document that clearly says that ATTACHED granny does not require minimum land size 450 sqm.?
        As if we opt to have granny but now sure how council will accept it or not?


  • Maree says:

    Is a separate garage deemed part of “the existing dwelling’ to comply with the no minumum sight area for attached dwellings. i.e I have a block of 399sqm in Newcastle with a detached garage with a room at the front of the garage. Can I convert this room to an approved granny flat?

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Maree,

      The site area of your land must be 450 sq m or more. The total floor space must be no more than 330 sq m (on land 450-600 sq m) including granny flats and garages, whether converted or new. Your issue is that the site area is < 450 sq m. Serge

  • Warren says:

    Hi I have a residential block of land in lake macqurie area with a house on the land.i want to build a granny flat on the land. The block is a triangle block it is 30m at the front facing the road 45m long tappering off to 5m at the back of the block can I build the granny flat at the back area of the block which is less than 12 m

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Warren,

      I don’t think so. The block must be minimum 12 m wide at the building line, that is, measured across the block where the granny flat is being built; otherwise you can apply for a DA – a slower path to approval but usually doable.

  • Robert Klos says:

    Can I build granny flat on a land that is 9..5m wide by 57 m long?

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Robert,

      The faster/easier SEPP path requires the block must be minimum 12 m wide at the building line, that is, measured across the block where the granny flat is being built; otherwise you can apply for a DA – a slower path to approval but usually doable.

  • Saanch says:

    Hi Serge,

    I am looking to buy a property which has parallel roads, with 10m frontage on both side. Is it possible to build a granny flat? The total area is 475m2 and the total building area will be less than 330m2. I was thinking of building the granny flat at the rear end road above the garage.

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Saanch,

      Unfortunately, the SEPP requires the property be at least 12 mtrs wide for that land size, so you’re at the mercy of that particular Local Council.
      Have a chat with them (Council) and check that the rear (parallel) road isn’t a busy public road because they probably won’t allow a granny flat if it’s facing or close to a boundary to a ‘classified road’.
      Also check to see if any neighbouring properties have granny flats similar to what you’re wanting.

      I hope this helps.

  • Chris Horvat says:

    I have a block thats over 450sqm, 13m wide and has rear lane access. It also has a double, brick garage 1.5m rom the rear lane. We are looking to build a granny flat above this under the SEPP, but no one seems to think its possible as its too close to the boundary. However looking into the SEPP it seems it can abut the laneway so long as its less than half the length of the block. Do you have any idea about this? The only issue I can see is the side boundary of the existing building is only 450mm away, Id be happy to move the second level in the required 900. Ideas?

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Chris,

      I appreciate you have spoken to everyone. If you Google granny flats and laneways you’ll see we have a dedicated blog here:
      The SEPP is quite clear on granny flats facing Laneways – “a dwelling on a lot that has a rear boundary with a laneway may have a building line that abuts that boundary for up to 50 per cent of the length of that boundary.”.

      The only thing(s)at can disqualify you is if:
      – The property is severely flood affected. Read our flood guide if it is in a flood zone:
      – The property is in a heritage or conservation area. Check your Section-149 Certificate to be sure.
      – The overall height will be over 8.5 mtrs measured at any point and measured from natural ground.
      – The street to the rear IS NOT a laneway and is in fact a “Parallel Road”. The difference is that a laneway primarily consists only of driveways/garages for storage and entry of vehicles. The Main SEPP defines a lane as:”lane means a public road, with a width greater than 3m but less than 7m, that is used primarily for access to the rear of premises, and includes a nightsoil lane.”

      Otherwise you should be fine, unless I’ve missed something.


      Serge Panayi.

  • Cam says:

    Hi Serge,

    Could you assist with your interpretation of the private open space being 4m minimum width? What is the width? Is it the dimension parallel to the road frontage?

    Could a 3x8m space work if it met the other criteria

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Cam,

      The Principle Private Open Space (PPOS) requirement for granny flats is that an area, directly accessible from the living room must be provided.
      It must be at least 24 sq m and have one dimension of at least 4 mtrs. i.e. 4m x 6m = 24 sq m

      You cannot do it in strips or cumulatively from areas around the property. It must be there, directly accesible as you step out of the door of a living area/room.

      Ta, Serge.

  • Elle says:

    I was wondering if you can build a granny flat on either a block over 450m squared or maybe even an acre lot, or a massage 40 acre lot, what the differences would be?
    Can I build a granny flat if there is already a existing detached granny flat on the lot?
    Can I build if there’s an excising loft (detached garage with kitchen/bathroom) and a large shed?
    Can I build anything at all or live in anything without Development applications and council approvals?
    I have heard if a granny flat/portable building it is meant to be except if under 20m squared then can attached a shed to it?
    What about caravans and buildings with wheels (tiny house/cabin)?
    Would certain zoning allow me to build or not build (ie rural, residential, scenic)?
    That’s a lot of questions. Just trying to see if I can find somewhere to live with my own space, maybe at friends or family without disrupting them or their land too much, and without costing al lot (especially when plumbing, electrical and council fees are involved).
    Thank you.

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Elle,

      The State SEPP legislation requires the block be over 450 sq m and at least 12 mtrs wide and must be zoned Residential, not Rural. Only one granny flat per lot is allowed. A loft with kitchenette isn’t a granny flat so should be ok to build a new one.

      There are no provisions for granny flats as ‘exempt development’.

      Caravans aren’t dwellings so you can do as you please with one.

      Some Councils (not many) permit granny flats attached to the main dwelling if in a Rural zone and some more regional (country) Councils allow detached granny flats in rural zones but none in Sydney that I know of.

      I hope that helps.


  • Leo says:

    Hi Serge,

    If I want to build a granny flat in Parramatta council through DA (because I am in a conservation area), can it be larger than 60sqm if the total primary and secondary dwelling to land ratio is under what the council specifies in their DCP?

    The DCP doesn’t say it has to be <60sqm. Only the SEPP, but I'm not applying under the SEPP.



    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Leo,

      To my knowledge, you’re still restricted to 60 sq m in Parramatta under a DA but best to give them a call and ask.
      The last one I did at Parramatta CC was about 1 year ago and we completed a 60 sq m Granny Flat plus attached Garage and Patios.

      Regards, Serge.

  • Paul says:

    Hi, You mentioned “No Minimum Site Area for Attached Granny Flats” in SEPP 2014 but according to the general information of granny flats published on Aug 2014 ,, the site area still need to be greater than 450 square meter.
    So which one should we follow?


    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Paul,

      What can I say but, wow, that page needs to be fixed.
      The page you read is a guide, not the actual legislation. I have more to say about the ‘guide’ below, but first to the only thing that matters- the legislation.

      The NSW SEPP Legislation states: (Division2, Clause22-4):
      (4) A consent authority must not refuse consent to development to which this Division applies on either of the following grounds:
      (a) site area if:
      (i) the secondary dwelling is located within, or is attached to, the principal dwelling, or
      (ii) the site area is at least 450 square metres

      This means a granny flat is permitted either:
      (1) On a lot a minimum of 450 sq m (i.e. must be detached) or
      (2) Attached to (or within) the existing main dwelling.

      In the latter case (2), the lot size is irrelevant.

      As you can see from the legislation a granny flat is indeed permitted if attached to a main dwelling OR (if not attached) on a lot 450 sq m or larger.

      I assure you a granny flat on a lot less than 450 sq m can have an attached granny flat, assuming all other zoning controls are met (not conservation, heritage or severe bushfire prone land etc).We approve scores of attached granny flats on lots less than 450 square meters every year, including many so far this year.

      Paul I would’ve come to the very same conclusion you did in reading what that guide says.
      I wonder how many people have read the same thing and given up on the idea of an attached granny flat on their property?
      Unfortunately, this is not the first vague/inaccurate planning guide brought before me.

      Terrible. lol
      Thanks Paul.

      I’m going to call Planning NSW and ask them to review that page. Thanks for showing it to us! You’ve helped others like yourself.

      Warm Regards,
      Serge Panayi
      Granny Flat Approvals.

  • Luisa says:

    Hi Serge,
    Am looking to put a garage on our 519sqm block (towards back of block). Is there any way we can go above the 45sqm outbuilding limit? Do i need to make it a granny flat?

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Luisa,

      Garages (outbuildings) and granny flats (secondary dwellings) are completely different types of structures and are both permitted i.e. you can have both a garage and a granny flat.
      I’m not sure what you otherwise mean, sorry?


  • yudhana sunartha says:

    I have a block that is 30m wide but 12m deep because it is parrallel to the road, as in the front boundary is 30m wide and side boundaries are 12m. Can i build a granny flat if my block is annoyingly 438 sqm but access to the rear yard can be done via the same parrallel road from the front boundary? I understand it cant be a CDC but regular DA but have you had any examples of granny flats with appoved DA for just under 450 sqm?

    • yudhana sunartha says:

      I also forgot to mention Im after a detached granny flat as an attached granny flat is not possible.

      • Serge Panayi says:

        Hi Yudhana,

        The merits of a DA-Approved detached granny flat are assessed by Council and are never guaranteed BUT we can assess it for you as part of our DA Approval process. We prepare & submit around 30% of granny flat approvals as DA’s and around 90% of them are approved as originally submitted. 5% need amendment(s) in order to be approved and the remainder fail – in all cases we appraise the client of their chances before we dive in and spend their money.

        Feel free to give us a call and we’ll asses it for you free of charge.



  • Franz Stockinger says:

    Hi I Have an existing property that has an extension which i want to convert into a granny flat. I get different advise from different people about the fire rated wall. Is it true that you need it competently separate Floor roof and the fire rating must be down to the sub floor and up into the roof. .the land size complies with the requirements of a granny flat.

  • Max says:

    Hi what is the minimum setback from primary double storey building to a detached granny flat (Between primary and secondary dwelling) . I am planning to build a double storey and a detached granny on the back. The land size is 14.5 x 30 mts. The land is pretty much flat about 0.5 mtr slope towards back.

  • Paul says:

    Are the rules changing to build a granny flat in July?

  • Sally Cramer says:

    Hi Serge, I have heard that the PPOS requirement for a granny flat is being increased as of 17/7? Is this correct and, if so, by how much? Does a deck off the living room count as PPOS?

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Sally,

      Where did you hear about this new rule under the NSW State SEPP?

      Under the existing rule, PPOS is minimum 24 sq m and can be in an outdoor area such as a deck


  • Lalith Kuruwita says:

    Can a granny flat be built on top of the double garage when you build a new garage in Mascot area where the access to the garage
    from the back of the land that has access to the service lane?

  • Sisitha Pathirana says:

    Hi, I’ve got 600m2 block (20mx30m). I would like to build a house of 40sq and a detached granny flat 60m2, in Penrith area. According to council documents my plan complies with 50% site coverage and doesn’t talk about floor space. But confusion is maximum floor area rule in AHSEPP, which limits to 330m2. What are my options, if you could advise please.

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi Sisitha,

      The SEPP allows 330 sq m on a block 600 sq m or less as Complying Development.
      Site Coverage and Floor Space are different values. Give us a call and we can get the process started for you.



  • John Roberts says:

    Hi Serge,

    As the exempt and complying SEPP changed, how does this affect granny flats now?

    In particular, can we still build an attached garage to our granny flat and how large can it be? (I cannot find this in the exempt SEPP, only ‘detached’ development is mentioned in 3.20).

    • Serge Panayi says:

      Hi John,

      There are minor changes but nothing which stops an attached garage. The maximum size of the attached garage is regulated by the ‘main SEPP” (Exempt and Complying Development – 2008), so give us a call and we’ll happily begin that process for you.



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