Lane Cove Council’s Letter on Multi-Dwelling Housing is Causing Confusion

This week, many Lane Cove residents received a Lane Cove Council letter asking them to “have your say” on Multi Dwelling Housing in the R2 Low Density Residential Zone (R2).

ITC followers were quick to tell us the letter was SO confusing.  In a nutshell, they wanted to know what the letter was about and if the Lane Cove Council’s proposal was a good or bad proposal.

New Medium Density Housing Code

In July 2018, the NSW State Government introduced a new Medium Density Housing Code (the Code).  The Code’s purpose was to enable homeowners and developers to convert their blocks of land into medium density housing.  The idea was to free up blocks traditionally used for single freestanding houses by providing more housing on the same block that previously had one family occupying a house.

When the Code was introduced, over 50 Councils objected to the Code. There was a fear  the amendments would allow developers to build medium density housing in areas that were not suitable for this type of development (for example limited parking, no access to public transport and near protected areas such as the Lane Cove River).

What is Medium Density Housing?

According to the Code:

Medium density residential development means:

  • Dual occupancies;
  • Manor houses and ‘one above the other’ dual occupancies –  a building of between 2 – 4 dwellings; or
  • Multi dwelling housing (terraces).


Before the Code, was Multi Dwelling Housing Permitted in Lane Cove’s R2?


Lane Cove’s R2 zoning’s main objective is to protect Lane Cove’s single dwelling character and landscape setting. However, in 2010 Lane Cove Council amended its LEP to include ‘multi dwelling housing’ in the R2 zone.  Prior to amending R2, the Lane Cove Council wrote to the Department of Planning seeking confirmation that, if Council continued to permit multi-dwelling housing in R2, they could set a height limit to permit single storey dwellings (villas/duplexes) and not townhouses.  The NSW Dept of Planning agreed to this restriction.

To facilitate this restriction, Lane Cove Council imposed a height control of 5 metres. This made it impossible to build a two-storey townhouse in R2.

Why Prohibit R2 Multi Dwellings Now?

The Code will override Lane Cove Council’s planning controls by permitting terraces/townhouses in the R2 zone to a height of 8.5 metres.

Lane Cove Council are worried the Code will promote larger scale townhouse developments in areas traditionally noted for their single dwellings.  Lane Cove Council supports multi dwelling development if the developments are close to transport, shops and services, such as near the Lane Cove Village. Much of the R2 zoned land impacted by the Code is not near services or centres and a large proportion of this land is along the Lane Cove River.  It will also increase the number of residents in the one street.  This creates parking and traffic issues.

Lane Cove Council held an Extraordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday, 1 May 2018 to discuss the New Medium Density Housing Code.  Lane Cove Council resolved to submit a Planning Proposal requesting removal of the land use ‘multi-dwelling housing’ from R2  and consequential amendments.

Pre Code Street Numbers Example Possible Street Numbers Scenario with Code
Lane Cove Street
20 Single Homes
2.55 Average Number of People in one home (based on Census data)20 x 2.55 residents 50 residents per street 




Total 51 Residents

Lane Cove Street
10 Single Homes
2.55 Average Number of People in one home (based on Census data)10 x 2.55 residents = 25.5

10 Manor Houses
4 units per manor house x 2.55 residents = 102 ResidentsTotal Single and Multi = 25.5 + 102


Total 127.5 Residents


Does that mean Townhouses are not permitted in Lane Cove?

No.  They will be allowed in R3 Medium Density Zone.  R3 zones are located in areas around the Lane Cove Village and the Pacific Highway.

Which Zoning Areas Applies to my Freestanding House?

The majority of freestanding houses in Lane Cove are located in the R2 Zone. Most blocks of land in Lane Cove range from about 500 to over 700 m².

How many Lane Cove Houses does the Code impact?

According to Council’s analysis, the total number of lots eligible for manor houses/multi-dwelling housing under the Code in the R2 Low Density Residential and R3 Medium Density Residential zones combined is 2685. R2 and R3 zones are 2565 and 120 respectively.

If Multi Dwellings are Permitted In R2 – How will this Impact My Home?

If the Code applies to R2 one and two storey dual occupancies, manor houses, terraces or townhouses will be able to be carried out as complying development.  For example, if next door decided to build a Manor House (up to 4 units on the one block) approval within 20 days may be obtained from a private certifier or council.  The person building the Manor House does not need to to go through the development application process. Neighbours are given limited notification and objection rights.  The only restriction is the development  must meet the criteria set out in the Code.

Why Did Lane Cove Council Write to Me?

The Lane Cove Council can only amend their LEP with the Department of Planning’s consent.  Councils must consult residents to see if they are for or against the proposal.

Why Does the Letter Mention Removing Height Controls/Floor Space Ratio (FSR)?

This is confusing.  Lane Cove Council received legal advice that to prohibit 2 storey multi dwelling housing in R2 they must remove all references to multi dwelling housing in the R2 section of the LEP.  This is called a consequential amendment and does not impact on the main aim to prohibit two storey multi dwelling buildings in R2 (different height requirements apply to freestanding houses).

Where to From Here?

You have the following options:

  • Have your say on development in Lane Cove by contacting Lane Cove Council via the Contact Details below and submitting detailed comments as to why you are for or against the proposal;
  • If you’re time poor and support the proposal all you have to do is email the Lane Cove Council and state, the following: I support Lane Cove Council’s Plans to Prohibit the Land Use Multi Dwelling Housing in R2 Low Density Zone (note you must put Multi Dwelling Housing Proposal SU7428 in the email subject line);
  • If you’re time poor and DO NOT support the proposal all you have to do is email the Lane Cove Council and state, the following: I do not support Lane Cove Council’s Plans to Prohibit the Land Use Multi Dwelling Housing in R2 Low Density Zone (note you must put Multi Dwelling Housing Proposal SU7428 in the email subject line); or
  • Ignore the letter.

All comments must be received by 13 February 2019.

Contact Details

To have your say on the Planning Proposal, make a submission to the General Manager quoting the reference “Multi-dwelling housing Proposal – SU7248” by:-

  • Post: Lane Cove Council PO Box 20, Lane Cove 1595;

Submissions close at 5pm on Wednesday 13 February 2019.

Note the Lane Cove LEP refers to Multi Dwelling Houses and the State Governments Code refers to Medium Density Housing.