NSW government launches resource to improve design and delivery of social housing

By Shannon Jenkins

October 13, 2020


The New South Wales government has released new guidelines to better support tenants and communities through the design and delivery of high-quality social housing.

The NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and the Government Architect NSW have collaborated to create two new industry benchmarking documents — Good Design for Social Housing and LAHC Dwelling Requirements — to replace the LAHC Design Standards 2014.

They support the notion that good design is an important factor in creating safe homes and inclusive communities, according to government architect Abbie Galvin.

“These design tools will help deliver outcomes which improve tenant comfort and vitality such as natural daylight and ventilation which helps cut energy costs, privacy when needed — while still being able to wave to neighbours from the front door — and easily accessible gardens and open spaces to help people unwind and relax,” she says.

Read more: Government investment in housing improvements could stimulate economies and enhance public wellbeing, according to new research

The Good Design document is aimed at everyone involved in the planning, design, delivery and maintenance process of homes, and outlines four key goals: tenant wellbeing, sense of belonging for communities, collaboration with partners, and long-term value for the NSW government.

According to the two agencies, the guide can be used to shape successful design outcomes during critical stages in the development lifecycle, including:

  • When identifying a development’s requirements and defining expected outcomes,
  • For briefing prospective consultants and development partners about government expectations for the design quality of developments and processes,
  • When assessing design proposals, as a reference for evaluating the design merit of a development,
  • For monitoring the consistency of design decisions as the design process evolves,
  • For measuring the ability of a development to meet good design goals and record lessons.

Meanwhile, the Dwelling Requirements can be used by LAHC staff, consultant architects, project managers and developers, and informs design quality for environmental performance, operational effectiveness, and tenant well-being — within cost parameters.

LAHC acting chief executive Deborah Brill said the documents promote human-centred design, and are part of the state government’s vision to “build more and better social housing”.

“By deliberately planning and designing new homes with solid structure and character from the start, we ultimately deliver better longer-lasting results for vulnerable people,” she said.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that the state budget — to be delivered on November 17 — would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in social and affordable housing. He said the budget would also fill gaps in the recently released federal budget, which has been criticised for its failure to support social housing.

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