As part of a review of apartment design standards, the Victorian Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee has released its report recommending further work on developing revised design standards.
The Committee’s recommendations sought to address issues arising throughout the submissions process, public hearings, site visits and broader research, and highlights the ways the State Government can work in partnership with local governments and industries to introduce new design standards to apartment developments.
Recommendations for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
- Provide a minimum size for new apartments in its next review of the BADS.
- Define and quantify ‘adequate daylight’, incorporating considerations around sunlight.
- Review minimum standards for private open spaces
- Review the concerns raised around minimum size for storage in new apartments, incorporating bicycle storage.
- Update the BADS and VPPs to implement a state‑wide requirement for environmentally sustainable design, as outlined in the Environmentally sustainable development of buildings and subdivisions: A roadmap for Victoria’s planning system.
- Include specific metric guidance for building setbacks.
- Include enhanced guidance on communal open spaces and review examples such as London and Toronto.
- Provide improved guidance on corridors and rooftop gardens as communal spaces within apartment buildings.
- Require the provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- Develop guidance on acceptable building height and density concerning local context to enable greater liveability in high‑density areas.
- Work with local councils to consider the benefits of design verification by registered architects.
- Investigate the development of a state‑wide framework for local councils to administer design review panels, including guidance on what triggers a design review to take place, the composition of panels, and panel operation, conduct and costs.
- Develop an improved framework around monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance with BADS.
Recommendations for the State Government
The Committee also released recommendations for State Government proposing:
- Implementation of legislative approaches to mandate the referral of apartment designs to design review panels to ensure that advice given by panels holds legal weight for enforcement.
- Consideration is given to the ways planning system reform could support the supply of more affordable apartments in Victoria.
The Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee report was tabled in parliament on 2 August 2022. The government has six months to respond to the recommendations enclosed, accessible here.
Many of the recommendations made by the committee have been mooted by the industry for some time. Other issues, such as minimum apartment sizes will be questionable, particularly given the effect of BADS on increasing apartment sizes already and the further impact on affordability.
By coincidence, work currently being undertaken by the DEWLP is looking at a number of these factors and we would expect to see an exploration of issues around building separation and the like later this year. There is no doubt that more prescriptive tools in planning seems to be the way of the future and we will be watching with interest to see how matters unfold. We are particularly interested in the issues surrounding the recommendation to increase the supply of more affordable apartments.
As always, we will keep our clients and readers informed of upcoming changes and expect to hear more in this space in the months ahead.