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Better Apartments New Standard Released

1. Quality trumps Quantity

The Standards do not stipulate minimum apartment size but outline a series of design approaches relating to:

  • Room depths based on orientation, single/double aspect, and the arrangement of rooms.

  • Building setbacks, both from the street/public realm and within a site.

  • Use of lightwells and their design.

2. Breeze, sunlight and snorkelling

The Report sets out Standards to achieve access to sunlight and natural ventilation, noting:

  • Habitable rooms must have a window in an external wall of the building visible from any point in the room.

  • Habitable rooms that rely on borrowed light arrangements or daylight from a ‘snorkel’ bedroom (access to light from an adjacent room) will not meet the standard.

  • At least 60% of dwellings with a finished floor level less than 35 metres height should be naturally cross ventilated.

3. The Great Outdoors

The Standards require the provision of private open space with the following minimum dimensions on the table opposite.:

  • Developments with 20 or more dwellings should provide communal open space of 2.5 square metres per dwelling or 100 square metres total (which ever is lesser).

  • The Standards require up to 15% of site area to be set aside for deep soils for canopy trees. The Standards also note that development should provide for the replacement of any significant trees that have been removed in the 12 months prior to the application being made.

4. Not Just for Tall Buildings

The Standards will be applied to all apartment development across Victoria. They will be implemented via the Particular Provisions and operate much like Rescode with a set of objectives, standards and decision guidelines.

It is a performance based system where applicants can submit proposals which meet the objective and standard (and get a tick), or submit alternative design solutions to be considered. Applicants must demonstrate that an alternative design will still be meet the relevant objectives and not impact the achievement of any other objectives.

The objectives have yet to be drafted so determining how difficult it will be to gain support for an alternative design outcome is unknown.

Developments less than 5 storeys will continue to respond to clause 55.

Overlays will continue to operate to respond to specific built form issues such as heritage, environment, and other local design objectives. Where an overlay specifies a requirement that is different from a requirement set out in the new planning provision, the requirements of the overlay must be met.

5. Implementation and Transition

The Standards are proposed to be introduced by December this year. Once the standards have been finalized a minimum of three months notice will be provided before they come into operation. Transitional provisions will be included to enable existing permit applications lodged prior to the new standards to continue to be assessed under the existing provisions in the planning scheme applying at that time.

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