SEPP 65 Design Review

State Environmental Planning Policy No. 65 – Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development (SEPP 65) seeks to improve the design quality of residential apartments in NSW. 

All development applications submitted under SEPP 65 need to be reviewed by a Design Review Panel.  The panel assesses the application against the Apartment Design Guide. This Guide prevails over provisions in Council's Development Control Plan.

Organise a meeting

To organise a meeting with Lake Macquarie Design Review Panel, contact Council from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Panel meetings will take place as required on the second Wednesday of each month. For concept and pre-lodgement proposals, Council recommends that you book well in advance, as there are limited agenda items listed per month.

Applicants should not contact the panel members directly at any time.

Meeting preparation

Documentation required

When preparing your application, you need to read and complete the checklists included in the Apartment Design Guide Appendices.

Documentation is to be submitted to Council by midday, 14 days prior to the meeting. If Council does not receive the documentation in the required timeframe, the meeting will be rescheduled.

Fee structure

You must pay the consultation fee to Council a minimum of seven days prior to the meeting. Please refer to the fees and charges for consultation fees.  

Assessment process

When considering a submission from the applicant/proponent, Council staff provides the panel with a report on the proposal against the nine design principles, as outlined in the Apartment Design Guide, and Council's planning controls.

The applicant/proponent is allowed 20 minutes to present the development to the panel. Additional time is allocated for discussion of the proposal between the panel and the applicant/proponent. A Council development planner will be present to clarify any issues raised by the panel and/or the applicant/proponent.

The panel endeavours to undertake a site inspection where possible before this meeting occurs.

Panel recommendations

The panel consults independently of the applicant/proponent to formulate recommendations against the nine design principles.

The panel's recommendations will include:

  • issues discussed at the meeting; and
  • additional issues identified during the panel's independent deliberations.

The written recommendations are provided within 14 days of the meeting.

About the Design Review Panel

Design Review Panels provide independent expert advice on applications and policy for apartment buildings, which SEPP 65 defines as buildings that comprise of or include:

  • three or more storeys - not including levels below ground level, provided for car parking or storage, or both, protruding less than 1.2 metres above ground level.
  • four or more self-contained dwelling units - whether or not the building includes uses for other purposes rather than residential - but does not include a 'Class 1a building' or a 'Class 1b building' under the Building Code of Australia.

The Lake Macquarie Design Review Panel is chosen from a pool of suitably qualified persons. The skills base for the panel members may include architecture, urban design or landscape architecture. The panel is chaired by one of its members on a rotational basis.

The panels are advisory only and do not have a decision making function. They will:

  • seek to improve the design quality of residential apartment development in NSW
  • carry out a review of proposals against the nine design principles within SEPP 65
  • encourage applicants/proponent to submit concept proposals for early comment
  • consider any advice provided by Council staff in respect to Lake Macquarie Local Environmental PlanLake Macquarie Development Control Plan, associated Area Plans and Master Plans
  • provide written recommendations addressing the nine design principles to Council and the applicant
  • conduct site visits and examine how the proposed developments will relate to the streetscape and the neighbourhood
  • advise whether the proposal is acceptable or requires redesign and to be resubmitted to the panel for further consideration