Tuesday, 01 March 2022 16:09

Design and Place SEPP submission

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One of the NSW Government’s most substantial planning reforms has been on exhibition over the new year period, with significant influence for new development in Western Sydney, and local government operations.

The package included:

  • Draft Design and Place SEPP
  • Draft Urban Design Guide
  • Revised BASIX SEPP
  • Revised Apartment Design Guide

WSROC has worked with member councils and other partners over the last two months to ensure that the revised planning policies support the operation of councils, and serve the interests of Western Sydney communities.

WSROC’s submission to the consultation includes broad recommendations around the structure and implementation of the SEPP, as well as specialist technical advice on priority issues for councils including urban heat, waste and energy.

The principles-based approach

One of the most significant changes in the Design and Place SEPP, and an issue of concern for councils, is a move towards a principles-based approach to planning.

The principles-based approach seeks to provide planning controls that are less prescriptive to encourage flexibility and innovation in new development. While innovation is welcome, Councils have stressed that without strong, minimum standards it will be difficult for local government to enforce quality outcomes, with lower-income areas more likely to see reduced quality in favour of affordability.

Urban heat

Following strong advocacy from local government and other stakeholders, the Design and Place SEPP is the first state planning policy that has sought to address the urban heat island effect. WSROC has welcomed recognition of heat as an issue, and the proposed inclusion of:

  • Cool roof requirements
  • Increased requirements for deep soil
  • Increased requirements and clear targets for tree canopy
  • Requirements for shading glazed facades.

However there are other areas where urban heat controls could be improved:

  • There is no guidance on appropriate tree species selection based on capacity to support urban cooling, biodiversity, or climate resilience objectives
  • Important urban cooling measures outside of tree canopy such as orientation and water have limited guidance
  • Water management controls remain focused on water capture and storage, rather than techniques to reuse and recycle water for irrigation to address urban heat.

BASIX: Energy use and thermal performance

The NSW Government has also updated the BASIX SEPP which assesses the energy use and thermal comfort of homes. Revisions include:

  • Stronger energy efficiency targets
  • More stringent thermal comfort controls
  • Updated climate data used to assess new homes to the year 2015.

These well-overdue updates are welcomed, however WSROC has expressed concern over using past climate data to assess homes that will be in place for many decades. Not only is climate data for the years 2016 – 2021 far more extreme than that prior to 2015, projections indicate hotter weather in future. In order to ensure resident comfort and safety in future, WSROC has recommended that:

  • Performance of new homes be assessed under future climate scenarios
  • BASIX include a thermal autonomy assessment that measures a home’s ability to maintain survivable temperatures in the absence of air-conditioning.

Thermal autonomy is extremely important for many households who cannot access air-conditioning due to tenancy arrangements or energy costs. Thermal autonomy is also critical for preserving community safety during power outages in both summer and winter months. 

Waste management

Waste is a critical service delivered by councils, and one that is often under-appreciated by the planning system. There have been several positive steps towards improving waste reduction and resource recovery in line with the NSW Government’s Net Zero Strategy including the requirement for developments to provide convenient facilities for organic waste collection and processing.

Unfortunately, the SEPP lacks controls to ensure new developments are designed to support council waste collection services. This has been an ongoing shortcoming of the planning system, where inadequate waste collection controls have resulted in critical safety issues during the collection of waste from buildings and poor amenity outcomes for residents, neighbours and the streetscape. Poor planning for collection by waste trucks also impedes access for other large service vehicles such as fire appliances, which is a major concern for communities.

WSROC’s full Design and Place SEPP submission can be found via the link below.

Submission to the draft Design and Place SEPP - February 2022 (pdf)

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 March 2022 17:39