19 Dec 2016

The Victorian State Government has finalised and released its highly anticipated Better Apartments Design Standards. The Standards will be applied to all apartments in Victoria and will represent a significant change to the planning system.

The Standards have evolved considerably from its earlier draft and Urbis is pleased with the finalised document.

Much of the considered feedback from us and others in the industry has been adopted and subsequently a strong performance-based approach to planning has been retained.

  • They will come into effect from March 2017
  • Transitional arrangements will apply to all applications lodged before then
  • They will apply to all apartments being developed across Victoria – the Building setback standard will not apply to apartments in buildings under four (4) storeys
  • They do not apply to ‘residential buildings’ which includes Residential Aged Care Facilities
  • They adopt the same performance-based approach used in ResCode (with Objectives, Standards and Decision Guidelines) and may be varied when the Objective is met
  • Overlays will continue to override the Standards where they differ
  • Minimum sized apartments will not be enforced; however, a new functional layout standard stipulates minimum sized bedrooms and living areas
  • Saddlebacks will be permitted providing the window is clear to the sky, a minimum of 1.2 metres wide with the ‘snorkel’ having a maximum depth of 1.5 times the width
  • Building setbacks replaced with standards to consider urban context and character
  • Natural ventilation requirement reduced from 60% to 40% of dwellings and alternative design solutions can be considered
  • Window to depth ratio 2.5 times the ceiling height with south facing room depth requirement removed.

The following tables show a comparison between the draft document and the finalised Standards on selected issues. Urbis conducted its own consultations and provided feedback to the Victorian Government.

For more information see our submission here

Overarching themes

Like most in the industry, we feel the overall outcome is sensible. For many of our clients the new Standards set requirements that align broadly with the outcomes that have been through VCAT in recent times.

We look forward to working with you on this when we return in the new year. Our office will close on 23 December and re-open on 4 January.

For more information on the Victorian Apartment Design Guidelines and how we can help you with your next project, please contact our Planning experts below.

Nathan Stribley View Profile
Anna Barclay View Profile