• VCAT

February 5, 2019

Basic guidelines for building design in Victoria

If you are building a residential development then it will be assessed under Rescode. Rescode applies to all land zoned for residential use across Victoria and covers buildings up to three storeys in height.

It is the job of town planners and architects to respond to the Rescode criteria to ensure a compliant design that will be approved by council whilst making sure you get the development you want.

The planning provisions are applied through planning or building permits and apply to:

  • Construction of new dwellings
  • Alterations and extensions to existing dwellings
  • Residential subdivisions

Rescode has certain objectives that describe the desired outcome to be achieved in the completed development. These objectives are met through prescriptive standards.

For example the neighbourhood character objectives are:

  • To ensure that the design respects the existing neighbourhood character or contributes to a preferred neighbourhood character.
  • To ensure that the design responds to the features of the site and the surrounding area.

These objectives are met through the following standards:

  • The design response must be appropriate to the neighbourhood and the site.
  • The proposed design must respect the existing or preferred neighbourhood character and respond to the features of the site

Generally the standard has to be met in order to meet the objective. However, if the council is satisfied that an alternative design solution meets the objectives, the alternative design solution can be accepted.

Not all single dwelling developments require a town planning permit. Alterations or extensions to existing single dwellings usually do not require a planning permit. However one is required if the lot size is less than 300sqm or 500sqm if specified in a schedule to a residential zone or there is a Neighbourhood Character Overlay on the site.

All residential development applications are assessed by the following 13 rescode standards.

  • Street setback
  • Building height
  • Site coverage
  • Permeability
  • Side and rear setbacks
  • Walls on boundaries
  • Daylight to existing windows
  • North-facing windows
  • Overshadowing open space
  • Overlooking
  • Daylight to new windows
  • Private open space
  • Front fences

These 13 Rescode standards have general standards that need to be met to be complaint. However certain schedules to planning zones may change the required standard. If you would like to know and understand the 13 standards please read this document.    

Understanding these requirements can be tricky and the challenge comes in designing a development that satisfies the standards whilst being a satisfactory design outcome for clients. As town planners and architects we deal with these requirements on a daily basis and have extensive knowledge of the planning provisions in Victoria to guide you through your development design. If you have a concern about any one of the 13 standards please contact us and we can explain it.