From the Planners Desk - Granny Flats

Feb 2023

In our inaugural segment, one of our talented Town Planners provides a breakdown of legislation, development guidelines and other technical items related to common developments.

Secondary Dwellings

A secondary dwelling is a technical term for the popularly known 'granny flat'.

Its primary function is to provide complimentary housing for the community; however, why someone would choose to erect a granny flat on the back of their property varies. The use of secondary dwellings can provide an additional residence for a family or close friends or provide affordable paid accommodation for the general public.

A Secondary dwelling or Granny Flat may be approved as Complying Development if it meets specific criteria and complies with the provisions in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021 (also known as the Housing SEPP). Otherwise, a Development Application (DA) is required to be submitted to your local Council. 

What to keep in mind when planning for a Granny Flat

Granny flats, as a form of complementary housing use, come in all shapes and forms; however, due to statutory requirements, there are some specific regulations and requirements that secondary dwellings must follow to be approved by the local authority.

The legislative regulation applicable to secondary dwellings is specified in the Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Each Council has its own provisions, though they share similar legislative requirements. These include zone permissibility and maximum gross floor area requirements, as outlined in the applicable Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Secondary dwellings, like other types of development, are only permissible in certain zones, subject to meeting specific criteria which varies across Local Government Areas. 

The first thing to check before making plans to submit your development to Council is to check if the zone where the proposed granny flat will be located allows for the erection of secondary dwellings. From there, all other LEP clauses that apply to the site or type of development require addressing in the Statement of Environmental Effects.

Complementing the statutory requirements for secondary dwellings, the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021 (also known as Housing SEPP, in force since 26 November 2021) also provides legislative requirements. The proposed development will only be assessed under the SEPP if the LEP does not permit secondary dwellings in residential zones. Be aware that not all zones will allow for the assessment of a secondary dwelling under the SEPP.

Granny Flat Approval
Granny Flats allow you to maximise your livable area on your land.

State Environment Planning Policy Provisions for Granny Flats

Many provisions for granny flats are included in the Housing SEPP. However, three of them are most relevant and must be acknowledged:

  • Minimum lot size: one of the requirements for the erection of a secondary dwelling under the SEPP is a minimum lot size of 450m2.
  • Parking provisions for the main dwelling on the site: the number of parking spaces available on the site must remain the same before and after the secondary dwelling has been erected.
  • Maximum gross floor area: the gross floor area is a measurement that includes the sum of all habitable floor areas of the proposed dwelling but excludes voids, lifts, stairs, and parking spaces, for example. The maximum total floor area allowed under the Housing SEPP is 60m2; this can also be a provision under the LEP.

In addition to the Local Environmental Plan and Housing SEPP provisions, the secondary dwelling will have to be assessed against the applicable key development controls set out in each Council's Development Control Plan (DCP).

Some critical development controls may include:

  • visual impacts on the streetscape,
  • stormwater management,
  • provision for services (i.e., mail, waste collection, power supply, water supply and sewer management),
  • site coverage,
  • views and privacy concerns, to consider a few.

Approved can help to get your Granny Flat approved

The bottom line

Secondary dwellings can be a tricky development due to site constraints and the number of different aspects to consider while preparing an application, such as statutory non-compliances that cannot be varied.

However, it can bring many benefits, such as a source of additional income. In addition to its benefits, parking space is optional for secondary dwellings, which can simplify some of the demands. Due to the dimensional requirements, secondary dwellings can be small and functional, resulting in an excellent option for a complementary form of housing.

Approved can manage the entire planning and approval process for your new Granny Flat; all we need is your Architectural Plans.

Our planning specialists at Approved are experts at providing the correct reports and assessments for your approval type and Council area. We look after everything from helping you select the right approval pathway to completing your Statement of Environmental Effects.

Documents & Resources

No items found.