New standards for Victorian apartments

Natural light, storage and better airflow are central to the improved planning standards for new apartments. The Better Apartments Design Standards, which were put in place in March, mean the growing number of people living in apartments will also have enough room in which to fit beds and fridges. Rather than include blanket apartment sizes, the standards allow for flexibility, innovation, privacy and functional (outdoor and indoor) living spaces. They also address acoustic protection, mobility needs and encourage sustainability by encouraging recycling, energy and water efficiency, and minimising stormwater run-off. This may include that bathrooms, door openings and corridors are designed to be accessible to people with limited mobility. And that communal open space is provided to accommodate resident activities. It integrates landscaping to mitigate the heat of urban environments.

In short, new apartments must meet the needs of different households, including the young, people with limited mobility, families, middle-aged downsizers, and the aged. “Victoria needs liveable, affordable housing options and we’re making sure new homes are well designed and accommodate different household types,” Planning Minister Richard Wynne said. “These standards bring us up to speed with other states. They preserve affordability and will make sure bedrooms are big enough to fit a bed.”

The standards will be complemented by apartment design guidelines, an apartment buyers and renters guide to make informed decisions, and an education and training program for planning and building design practitioners. A monitoring and review program will measure the effectiveness of the standards to make sure the best outcomes are achieved. The standards are the results of extensive consultations started in 2015 when people were asked to rank key issues with apartments. The top issues were: Access to adequate daylight, functional space and natural ventilation; Minimisation of noise between apartments and from external sources; and, Improving the energy and resource efficiency performance of an apartment.

Click here for more information about the initiatives and to download a full copy of the standards.

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