Update on Medium Density Housing Code in Lane Cove

In June 2018 the NSW Government introduced laws that made it easier to carve up existing residential blocks (usually your single level house) and build terraces, duplexes, townhouses or manor houses.  The Low-Rise Medium Density Housing Code was introduced to allow a simpler method for building low rise dwellings without lodging a development application.  A compliant development could be approved in about three weeks, compared to the Lane Cove Council average processing time of around 65 days under a traditional DA process. Developers would not be required to notify neighbours.

Medium Density Housing Code Opposition

Not everyone saw the Medium Density Housing Code as a good thing.

The Lane Cove Council did not support the Code as they were of the view it would result in over development in areas which are unsuitable for medium density housing due to environmental considerations and infrastructure constraints.  Lane Cove Council was not on its own.  Over 50 other councils sought a one-year moratorium on the code to allow councils time to update their Local Environmental Plans to ensure the code would not apply in the R2 Low Density Residential Zone.

Lane Cove Council was the first Council to propose an amendment to its Local Environment Plan (LEP), to ensure medium density development could not occur in the R2 Low Density Residential Zone.  Lane Cove Council sought comments from Lane Cove Residents on the Code (you may recall getting a very confusing letter last year asking for your comments – read more here)

The feedback from residents were that they were not in favour of the new Code.  Resident’s feedback resulted in the Lane Cove Council’s LEP amendment being accepted and gazetted by the state government on 14 June 2019. This means medium density development and application of the Medium Density Housing Code is restricted to the R3, Medium Density Residential Zone.

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.

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.

An Example

The following types of townhouses would not be permitted in R2 (as they exceed the height limit)


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