Extension of Better Apartments Design Standards

20 August 2019

The Victorian government has published a discussion paper proposing additional standards to include in its existing Better Apartments Design Standards.

The Better Apartments Design Standards (Standards) came into effect in 2017, introducing controls to improve the internal design of new apartments to improve liveability and sustainability. The Better Apartments in Neighbourhoods Discussion Paper builds on the Standards with a focus on the relationship between new apartments and existing neighbourhoods.

The Better Apartments in Neighbourhoods Discussion Paper

The paper proposes new standards in five categories, relating to: green space; high quality building facades; protection from wind impacts; attractive, engaging streets’ and better managed construction impacts.

A strong focus on streetscape as well as landscaping exists throughout the paper, which reflects the Victorian Government’s desire for new apartment developments to better assimilate with typical dwelling neighbourhoods.

The paper also aims to incorporate measures which bridge the gap between apartments developed in inner Melbourne, where established planning practices exist to control external amenity impacts, and those apartments increasingly being developed in outer Melbourne and Victoria more broadly.


The proposed Standards affect both Councils and developers. Should the proposed Standards be adopted, developers may find themselves facing additional planning requirements that deal with built form. For example, the Standards as proposed require developers to consider and counter the effect of wind on surrounding neighbourhoods. Communal open spaces will also be required for all apartments, contrary to the current standards which only require open spaces for developments of 40 dwellings or above. Councils in turn will be obliged to consider such controls before approving planning permits. The proposed Standards are likely to contribute to increased costs for developers which may have flow on effects on housing affordability.

How can we help you?

Submissions on the paper are open until 27 September 2019. HWL Ebsworth Lawyers acts on behalf of a variety of clients, including planning applicants, responsible authorities and objectors in a range of planning, environment and government matters. Our breadth of experience allows us to provide insightful advice to issues including strategic justification in planning control amendments and permit application matters. If you would like to discuss how this paper affects a proposed development, or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This article was written by James Lofting, Partner and Chantelle Radwan, Graduate.

James Lofting

P: +61 8644 3414

E: jlofting@hwle.com.au

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