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Have your say - Building Better Apartments

September 03, 2019

The Victorian Government has recently released for public consultation the proposed external amenity standards for the existing Building Better Apartments Program (the Program). The Program was initially introduced in 2017 by the Victorian Government, with the overarching aim of seeking to improve the livability and sustainability of apartments across Victoria. The proposed changes for the five policy areas are summarized as follows:

Green Spaces:

  • Change the current standards to:  
    • Clarify landscaping objectives and standardise canopy trees;
    • Require all apartment development to include landscaped communal open space;
    • Encourage landscaping in street frontages; and
    • Support landscaping, even in areas without an existing landscape character.
  • Amend the Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria to improve guidance about landscaping and include a suggested permit condition requiring information about how the landscaping will be maintained.

Appearance of the Building

  • Create a new standard to:
    • Require all apartment developments to have a high-quality external building design through the use of form and fittings; 
      Require external materials on the building to have visual interest and be durable for the life of the building;
    • Ensure that the external walls of the building are accessible for maintenance; and 
    • Ensure what is built matches the standard of the initial approval.
  • Amend the Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria to help ensure materials and built form achieve the standard.

Wind Impacts

  • Create a new standard for apartment buildings five or more storey’s to:
    • Ensure wind effects on streets and open spaces are considered;  and
    • Define comfortable and unsafe wind conditions. 
  • Amend the Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria to clarify when a desktop wind study or wind tunnel analysis is likely to be required, so wind effects are considered earlier in the design process. 

Street Interface

  • Change the standards to:
    • Integrate apartments developments with the street through active street fronts;  
    • Minimize the impact on the streetscape of vehicle entries; and
    • Ensure site services can installed and easily maintained and site facilities are accessible, adequate and attractive.

Construction Impacts

  • Create a new standard to require consideration of how a site will be managed prior to and during the construction period; and
  • Amend the Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria to include a suggested permit condition for a construction management plan.

The Victorian Government announced that the focus of these proposed changes is to strengthen the relationships between new apartment developments and the amenity of existing neighborhoods. HIA understands this overarching intent of the proposed standards, and principally supports the concept of strengthening relationships between apartments and existing neighborhoods. However, HIA considers that there are a number of the proposed outcomes which require further consideration. HIA have raised concerns that the planning system may not be the appropriate place to deal with some of these proposed outcomes. Additionally, some of the proposed outcomes may result in creating further uncertainties within the planning process.

For further information on the proposed external amenity standards, please click here. HIA will be lodging a formal submission in response to the proposed standards, with public consultation closing on 27th of September.

If you require further information or wish to provide feedback for HIA to consider as part of our submission, please do not hesitate to contact Teresa Davis on 03 9280 8230 or t.davis@hia.com.au.