• VCAT

March 1, 2021

Mandatory communal outdoor space introduced for apartment developments in Victoria

Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, announced some upcoming new standards for apartment design in Victoria on Sunday February 28th. The new standards will become part of Clause 55.07 – Apartment Developments and the particular provision at Clause 58 – Apartment Development.

Similar to the state’s first set of apartment standards introduced back in 2016 , these guidelines don’t mandate minimum lot sizes in the way that New South Wales’ SEPP 65 code does. The new standards focus on new landscaping standards to boost green space in and around apartment buildings, requirements for more deep soil planting to encourage canopy tree growth and the need for durable facades that will retain their aesthetics for longer.

Although the new standards are not facing as much opposition from developers as the first set of rules did back in 2016, it is expected the 2021 guidelines will again raise the costs for developers and buyers. Developers will be required to allow for more areas for landscaping as well as using more expensive and durable materials in residential developments. Property Council of Australia’s Victoria executive director, Danni Hunter, welcomes the new standards and said “We’re using our homes and our apartments as rest and exercise space and as a workplace, design has to be really flexible and adapt to what purchasers are telling us they want”.

Under the new rules, any apartment building with more than 10 residences must provide communal spaces, such as a barbecue area or seating, giving residents access to fresh air and apartment buildings taller than five storeys will be required to avoid “wind tunnelling” through sensitive design, and balconies will be eliminated on buildings taller than 40 metres to reduce overshadowing and “windswept” and underused balconies.

Not all developers were so welcoming of these new standards. “The industry remains concerned that the rigid application of these guidelines will lead to increasing construction costs that will erode project viability and ultimately lead to reduced housing supply and housing affordability,” the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s Victorian president and developer Ashley Williams said.

The full list of new standards is yet to be release. The draft version of the rules can be found here.