South Australia issues draft housing design guidelines

The Office for Design and Architecture of South Australia (ODASA) has released a set of residential design guidelinesintended to foster the design quality of medium-density infill housing for public feedback and consultation.

The draft guidelines come less than a week after the release of a draft of an update to The 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide. Composed of 14 principles and objectives, the updated plan outlines the importance of increasing residential density and flags the release of new residential design standards to encourage the development of a denser Adelaide rather than “low-density, mono-functional and usually car-dependent communities” at the urban periphery. The plan places particular emphasis on achieving this through a variety of non-high-rise housing typologies, including terraced houses and “next-gen” granny flats.

The Design Guidelines provide “best practice guidance” on the design of new residential developments. Described in the guide itself as “aspirational,” the guidelines are not mandatory. They will, however, serve as a “best practice tool” until the South Australian State Planning Commission introduces the planned statutory Planning and Design Code, which will set minimum performance requirements and “deemed-to-satisfy” conditions for new developments in keeping with the aims laid out in the 30-Year Plan.

While the guidelines can be applied to residential developments of any scale, its “primary focus” is on middle density development in infill growth areas identified in the 30-Year Plan. The guidelines have been designed to help ensure that the interface between new, medium-density developments and existing buildings is both appropriate to the current context and to future, denser development.

SA planning minister John Rau said, “Good design is at the heart of great places that the community can engage with. These draft Design Guidelines are intended to make this happen.”

The guidelines provide comprehensive advice on a range of design features both structural and superficial. In keeping with the focus on medium-density residences, the over-provision of car parking is discouraged while the design of adequate, convenient bike storage space is discussed in detail. Communal space and auditory and visual privacy are similarly prominently features.

The residential guidelines, revised 30-Year Plan and establishment of theState Planning Commission are all the product of legislation introduced to the South Australian parliament by Rau in 2015. The legislation also removed the Minister for Planning and councilors from development assessment panels, instead opting for panels composed of built environment experts. At the time, Rau said that the legislation would focus on increasing design quality and the establishment of design standards for infrastructure and the public realm.

The draft guidelines are available for public consultation until 25 July. To view the guidelines, click here.

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