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Victorian apartment standards draft is out

Bilby's picture

The long awaited Victorian apartment standards draft is out. It's interesting that The Age is reporting "no size minimum" ... which is true, but each apartment is now required to have 6-10 cubic metres of storage space and 12 square metres of open space. In many cases, this alone will result in larger apartment footprints, compared with what we have now.

I'm not sure what reduces design flexibility more, though - a minimum size, or mandating minimum sizes for design elements, like balconies and storage?

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Mark Baljak's picture

New rules for better apartments in Victoria

Victoria has stopped short of imposing minimum unit sizes as it introduces new apartment standards to improve high rise amenity and access to air and light.

The Victorian approach, outlined by state planning minister Richard Wynne, differs from Sydney, which has set minimum sizes for apartments, including 50 square metres for one-bedroom apartments and 70 sq m for two-bedders.

Instead, the new Victorian controls, still in draft, require that apartments have enough daylight and ventilation, and set out energy and waste efficiency requirements and noise minimisation measures.

Minimum standards

The new rules set a minimum standard ceiling height of 2.7 metres. Any habitable room must have direct access to daylight, with the window visible from any point within the room.

"There are a number of apartments that have been built in Melbourne which frankly don't reach in our view a minimum standard," Mr Wynne said on Sunday.

"Buildings that rely on borrowed light, buildings that have poor ventilation, buildings where you can barely put a double bed into the bedroom: this is not the quality of apartments that we should have."

Mr Wynne's press conference on the new regime was held at a Lendlease development in Docklands, within a one-bedroom apartment of 48-square metre, less than the Sydney standard.

The decision not to establish Sydney-style minimum sizes was not a "cop-out", Mr Wynne said.

"The opportunity in an apartment like this, at 48 square metres, achieves and in fact exceeds the guidelines that we are putting in place.

"We will not be mandating minimum sizes because we want to ensure that good design is a part of this solution."

The new system allows for some flexibility. While each standard should normally be met, planning authorities can consider alternate solutions that still satisfy the overall design objective.

"The guidelines will give people the confidence of a consistent approach to development, while offering the flexibility for those innovative proposals required to create the best places," said Mark Menhennitt, Lendlease's managing director of urban regeneration.

The Property Council of Australia's Victorian acting executive director Asher Judah described the new controls as "guidelines with teeth" rather than strict rules.

Mr Judah rated the system a 7 of of 10, and is hoping for more leeway on provisions on borrowed light and cross-ventilation.

"The decision on minimum apartment sizes is a good one. It will ensure that apartments continue to be affordable and market demand is met by developers."

One of Australia's best-known private developers, Grocon, also praised the new provisions for fostering quality and innovation.

"The draft standards do not include onerous or expensive inclusions," innovation chief David Waldren said. " Standards do not preclude innovation, and never have."

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Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.


Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.