Terrace houses set for comeback as part of new code to fast-track approvals of medium density development

Then and now: Terrace houses built by Thomas Saywell on The Grand Parade, Brighton-Le-Sands, in the late 19th century, adjoin a 20th century apartment block.
Then and now: Terrace houses built by Thomas Saywell on The Grand Parade, Brighton-Le-Sands, in the late 19th century, adjoin a 20th century apartment block.

Terrace houses are set to make a comeback as a supposedly less costly form of housing.

Public feedback on a draft medium density housing code, released by the state government, closed in December, and the rules could be finalised within months.

The code will set rules for medium density housing, including town houses, terrace houses and dual occupancies, to be assessed as complying development.

Brighton Terraces estate.

Brighton Terraces estate.

The draft document said characteristics of terrace houses included that dwellings must have a frontage to a road, car parking can be located to the front, off a rear lane, or within and underground car park and private open space is generally located at or near ground level.

St George retains several examples of terrace house developments, the most notable being the row of homes built in the late 19th century by Thomas Saywell on The Grand Parade at Brighton-Le-Sands.

A modern project featuring this style of housing, Brighton Terraces, was built on the former Elizabethan Bowling Club site a short distance away in West Botany Street, but homes are in an estate with an internal driveway, and most don’t face the street.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the new policy, when adopted, would encourage more and better designed terraces, townhouses and dual occupancies “in response to demand for this versatile housing type”.

Mr Stokes said the code would allow these types of housing to be assessed as complying development as long as they met specific design standards.

Approval could take about 22 days, compared to 71 days for other development applications.

A spokesman for Georges River Council said, once the code was adopted, it would override all council local environmental plans (LEPs).

It would operate in a similar way to the complying development system for single dwelling houses.

The spokesman said this could result in “some differences to the types of development currently permitted within council’s LEPs”. 

The Department of Planning and Environment’s draft code followed a discussion paper, which drew more than 160 submissions.

Criticism included the “one size fits all” approach did not take into account individual characteristics of council areas.