By Nathan Stribley | 16 Aug 2016

On Sunday 14 August, the Victorian Government released the Better Apartments Draft Design Standards for consultation and is inviting stakeholder feedback until Friday 19 September 2016.

The draft design standards have been developed to address specific apartment design and amenity issues raised through broad public consultation that started in May 2015:

  • Adequate daylight through building setbacks, room depth ratios, windows in all habitable rooms and, where used, light wells
  • Adequate storage through minimum storage space relative to bedroom numbers
  • Minimised noise through building design and layout and maximum noise level requirements
  • Energy efficiency and sustainability through building design and layout that maximises solar access, and maximum cooling load caps
  • Natural ventilation through windows that open, cross-ventilation and breeze path requirements
  • Adequate outdoor space through minimum outdoor communal space and balcony requirements
  • Landscaping through building design, layout and deep soil area requirements
  • Accessibility through minimum doorway and passageway widths, and bedroom and bathroom dimensions
  • Efficient entry and circulation through design and layout to ensure safe and functional movement for residents
  • Efficient waste management through ensuring facilities are accessible, functional, and do not negatively impact on residential or public amenity
  • Efficient water management through the re-use and recycling of stormwater.

The introduction of these new guidelines herald a strengthening of the regulation of apartment development in Victoria.

Public consultation on the draft design standards is open until 5pm, Friday 19 September 2016.

For detail of the draft design standards click here for a link to the PDF document or contact a representative of the Melbourne Urbis planning team.

Following public consultation on the draft design standards, apartment design guidelines will be introduced in December 2016.

New guidelines will be prepared to apply to all apartments designed across Victoria and will replace the existing Guidelines for Higher Density Residential Development currently in the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPPs).

A new particular provision will be introduced in the VPPs that will adopt the same performance based assessment approach currently used in the planning scheme.

The new provision will contain:

  • Objectives: Apartment development must meet all outlined objectives.
  • Standards: A standard should normally be met; however, alternative design solutions may be considered if the corresponding objective is met.
  • Decision guidelines: Responsible authorities must consider these matters.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will develop a range of tools to inform consumers which apartments satisfy the design standards to educate potential apartment purchasers or renters.

Once the standards have been finalised, a minimum three months’ notice will be provided prior to operation. Transitional provisions will be included to ensure schemes lodged before the new standards are in effect are assessed under existing planning scheme at the time.

If the new guidelines are implemented in their proposed form they will increase the development design and layout requirements, a few of the headline items are outlined below:

  • layouts incorporating saddleback bedrooms will become non-compliant (due to the proposed requirement that a widow must be visible from any point within a habitable room)
  • required setbacks from side and rear boundaries will increase beyond the current accepted development outcomes (e.g. 12 metres from site boundaries for buildings over 25 metres in height)
  • apartments will have a maximum depth of 8 metres from a natural light source (south facing apartments will be limited to a depth of 2 times their ceiling height)
  • apartments will have a minimum storage volume requirement (e.g. 8 cubic metres for a two bedroom dwelling)
  • at least 60 per cent of dwellings with a finished floor level less than 35 metres height will require natural cross ventilation
  • private open space requirements will be increased (e.g. a 12 square metre balcony for a three bedroom apartment)
  • common areas and corridors will require at least one source of natural light and ventilation
  • communal open space requirements will be increased for developments with 20 or more dwellings (e.g. 2.5 square metres per dwelling or 100 square metres whichever is less).

The introduction of these new guidelines herald a strengthening of the regulation of apartment development in Victoria.

Get in touch with one of our experts to find out how this impacts your project requirements.

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