There are a few loopholes in the NSW planning system that allow a developer to gain a greater yield for a site than would otherwise by permitted under the local planning controls (the LEP and DCP). One of these loopholes is the Seniors Housing SEPP, formally known as State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors and People with a Disability) 2004.
The SEPP allows a developer to, in many cases, override local planning controls, provided that the development they are proposing is orientated towards seniors or persons with a disability.
The SEPP covers various sub-types of development that may be suited towards seniors or persons with a disability, including:
- Residential care facilities
- Self contained dwellings
- Serviced self-care housing
In most cases a Seniors Housing development can only take place on land that is "primarily for urban purposes" or adjoining that land. There are certain categories of environmentally sensitive land where seniors housing is not permissible including land in a floodway or land subject to high flooding hazard.
There are other site requirements in the SEPP including that the site be located within 400m of services including shops and health services, or failing this, within 400m of a public transport service, accessible by walking at a certain gradient that can take residents to these services. Quite often, a survey of footpath gradients will need to be undertaken to confirm compliance with this requirement.
The SEPP provides design standards for the different sub-categories of seniors development, including requirements such as site/footpath gradients, wheelchair access, door widths, parking layout, bathroom layouts etc. Generally, flat sites are most suitable for seniors development.
One of the main advantages of using the Seniors SEPP is that in many cases it allows for a higher yield for a site than allowed under local planning controls and reduced provision of car parking - as seniors and people with a disability tend to own fewer cars. It needs to be noted that a restriction is generally placed on the development that once built, it can only be occupied by the following persons:
(a) seniors or people who have a disability,
(b) people who live within the same household with seniors or people who have a disability,
(c) staff employed to assist in the administration of and provision of services to housing provided under this Policy.
For any further enquiries regarding the Seniors SEPP, feel free to get in contact.