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Site Compatibility Certificate – Seniors Housing

This article provides an overview of the purpose of the Site Compatibility Certificate (SCC) in relation to the Seniors SEPP. In 2004, the NSW state government introduced the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004 (Seniors Living SEPP) in response to NSW’s ageing population. In 2016, there were more than 2 million people aged 55 and over in NSW and the rate of growth is rapidly increasing.  The Seniors Living SEPP is intended to help encourage development suitable for seniors and those with disabilities while maintain the character of the local area. 

What is a Site Compatibility Certificate?

An amendment to the Seniors Living SEPP introduced the concept of SCCs, which are intended to ensure that a proposed development site is generally suitable with the surrounding land uses for seniors development. Where a Senior’s Housing development is proposed on, part partially on, land that adjoins land zoned primarily for urban purposes (but where the zone of the land on which the development is located doesn’t otherwise permit Senior’s Housing), developers must obtain an SCC from the Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE) before lodging a development application with Council. In such situations, whilst obtaining the SCC is mandatory, the SCC itself does not guarantee a development will be approved by the consent authority.

What Land is Eligible for a Site Compatibility Certificate?

Seniors Housing developments on applicable land under the Seniors SEPP requires a SCC where:

  • The subject site adjoins land zoned for urban purposes
  • The subject land is identified as “special uses” under an environmental planning instrument (except where hospitals are permitted)
  • Land used for the purposes of a club on or adjoining urban land
  • The proposal is for a “vertical village” (Clause 45 of the Seniors SEPP)

There are additional limitations on, and considerations regarding, the issuance of a SCC in Section 24 and 25 of the Seniors SEPP.

What is a Cumulative Impact Study and do I need one?

A relatively recent amendment to the Seniors SEPP introduced the requirement for a Cumulative Impact Study for land that is next to proximate site land. The Seniors SEPP defines land that is next to proximate site land:

(2A)  Land is next to proximate site land for the purposes of this clause if the land (or any part of the land) is located within a one kilometre radius of 2 or more other parcels of land (the proximate site land) in respect of each of which either—

(a)  there is a current site compatibility certificate, or

(b)  an application for a site compatibility certificate has been made but not yet determined.

(2B)  However, any other parcel of land for which development consent for the purposes of seniors housing has been granted is to be disregarded when determining whether land is next to proximate site land even if a site compatibility certificate has been granted in respect of that parcel.

Section 25, State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004

Therefore, a Cumulative Impact Study is only required when an application for an SCC is actively being determined or has been granted. However, once development consent has been granted, the land is no longer considered land next to proximate site land.

If you require assistance with Seniors Housing development, get in touch with Precise Planning for expert advice.

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