Vic gov’t proposes additions to apartment standards guidelines

The Victorian Government has published a discussion paper, which outlines a number of possible additions to its apartment design guide, with a focus on the way new developments relate to the existing environment.

The Better Apartments Design Standards, which covered a range of controls including building setbacks, room sizes, natural ventilation and private open space, was released in 2016 and came into effect in 2017 .

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The Better Apartments in Neighbourhoods discussion paper proposes additions to the Better Apartments Design Standards and the Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria. The paper focuses primarily the way new apartment blocks improve or affect the existing streetscape and, more broadly, the neighbourhood in which they are built.

The document organizes the changes into five groups: green space, ‘high quality building facades,’ wind impacts, ‘attractive, engaging streets,’ and the management of the impact of construction on a building’s neighbours.

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In terms of green space, the report reads: “Despite the current planning rules, landscaping is often an afterthought in the building design and planning process. Canopy trees, that improve people’s wellbeing and provide urban cooling, are often either too small or not provided at all.”

It proposes a new requirement for new developments to include communal landscaped space, as well as a new priority on canopy trees over other planting.

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Elsewhere, the paper also outlines a number of possible changes regarding the design of the exterior of new buildings, noting that “some apartment developments do not age well,” and that “there are few planning provisions outside central Melbourne to ensure high-quality design of building facades.”

It proposes the inclusion of a new standard, which would “require all apartment developments to have a high-quality external building design through the use of form and fittings,” and “require external materials on the building to have visual interest and be durable for the life of the building.”

The discussion paper is available here, with a consultation period ongoing until 27 September.

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