Consultation Report

Overview

In 2019, the government announced proposed changes to the planning rules that focused on the relationship between new apartment developments and the amenity of existing neighbourhoods.

These changes build on the Better Apartments Design Standards in the Victoria Planning Provisions introduced by the government in 2017 to improve the internal design of new apartments and make them more livable and sustainable.

Public consultation has been undertaken on five policy aims for apartment developments, including:

  • Green space in common areas of buildings, which preferably include trees to provide shade and landscaping that softens the street
  • High quality building facades made from robust, durable and attractive materials that complement surrounding buildings and provide visual interest
  • Protection from wind impacts on surrounding streets and open space, so the spaces are comfortable to use and likely to be used more often
  • Attractive, engaging streets that enhance the amenity, safety and walkability of the neighbourhood, and
  • Better managed construction impacts on existing neighbourhoods.

The objective of the proposed changes is that apartments will become liveable homes of the future by creating greener, more robust apartment buildings that contribute to the life of their neighbourhood and help make streets and neighbourhoods pleasant places to live and visit.

For more information on the Better Apartments project, please visit: Better Apartments | DELWP.

How we engaged


The Better Apartments in Neighbourhoods - Discussion Paper 2019 was released for public comment in September 2019. Feedback from the community, industry groups, local government and project reference groups (council and building industry) was collected via a program of workshops and online consultation. The Department received over 180 written submissions during 8 weeks of public consultation, reflecting the continued interest of the Victorian community in having a say about the future of apartment developments. A copy of all submissions received can be found in the Document Library above.

8 weeks of public consultation, over 180 public submissions, 9 reference group workshops and 2,382 engagements on social media

Where to find the standards?

The information gathered from submissions has informed the development of the revised Better Apartments Design Standards.

The Minister for Planning has announced changes to the standards to commence in 2021. The Department is providing a preview of the standards now and will formally implement the standards when they come into operation into the Victoria Planning Provisions and planning schemes in the coming months.

A preview of the updated Better Apartment Design Standards and a preview of the 2021 Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria can be found at Better Apartments | DELWP.

What we heard

Feedback on green space was mixed; many respondents were supportive of more trees and greenery in apartment buildings, while others expressed concern over the costs of upkeep.

Many agreed that apartments contribute to the feel of a neighbourhood and therefore supported communal open spaces, high quality building facades and protection from wind impacts. There was a request for clarity over the wording of the building facades standard. Some respondents felt that there was not enough consideration given to pedestrian and cycling safety in the street interface standard.

Who made submissions, what did people comment on?

Broad support but concerns for maintenance costs.

“Absolutely. Parks and greens spaces are proven to provide better social psychological outcomes for community. The more trees and green spaces the better.”

“I'm very worried about the cost of upkeep of green space in apartments. Many people choose apartments because they want low-maintenance, low-cost living. Requiring garden upkeep means higher common fees for owners and renters.”

Support high quality facades but words in the standard are too subjective.

“This will provide a more consistent expectation and interpretation of high-quality façade design and requirements across all apartment developments”

“New standards are generic, subjective and open to interpretation..”

Broad support with various suggestions for different building heights this standard should apply to.

“Victoria's windy conditions and the impact they have on building occupants should be considered by all planners”

“This will assist in ensuring a high level of amenity is maintained in public, private and communal areas.

Support active design and encourage greater focus on pedestrian and cyclist safety.

“This is a welcome change…There is currently no guidance on this issue and it has become a significant problem in recent years –particularly with high quality frontages compromised by poor service location and integration into building design”

“We…recommend that vehicle crossovers are separate to pedestrian access - not only for visual amenity but also for pedestrian safety.”

Strongly support the direction of providing stronger guidance on Construction Management Plans (CMPs), though not sure if this should be implemented at the planning stage.

“Traffic flow, parking and neighbourhood enjoyment are significantly impacted for long periods by apartment construction. I endorse suggested changes.”

“Council encourages DELWP to prepare a template for a standard CMP so that there is consistency across the state in terms of requirements and expectations.”