The Victorian Government has announced that in 2017 it will be rolling out the ‘Better Apartments Design Standards’. This initiative was designed in an attempt to improve the livability and sustainability of apartments in Victoria.

The intended result of the guidelines, which will be implemented in the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes in March 2017, is to give the growing number of people living in apartments more access to natural light, airflow and storage, among other things to improve the quality of life living in an apartment.


It all started with a discussion paper. In preparation for Victoria’s growing population and to plan its sustainable development growth, the government released Better Apartments – A Discussion Paper in May 2015, which sparked a statewide conversation with the community, local government and industry about internal apartment amenity and potential future design.

The paper later received almost 1700 survey responses and about 150 submissions from the community, regarding key issues affecting apartment amenity like daylight, space, natural ventilation and noise.

Taking Feedback On Board

As a result of the community consultation, the Better Apartments Design Standards initiative will include the following support tools:

  • Best-practice design guidelines for designing and assessing apartment developments, which will include examples of how the standards can be applied in different urban contexts.
  • An education and training program for council and private-sector planning, building and design practitioners about the design and assessment of apartment developments in line with the new standards, also considering alternative design solutions. The program will start in March 2017 and will include a number of free sessions.
  • A design review process to provide guidance and advice to local governments about how to assess more complex apartment developments.
  • An apartment buyers and renters guide, to help buyers and renters make informed decisions.

Industry Response To Better Apartments Design Standards

Naturally, the development industry was compelled to weigh in on this auspicious move to improve apartment building and living in Victoria. Some of the big names in development advocacy recently produced their thoughts and feelings on behalf of the industry.

Building Designers Association Of Victoria (BDAV)

Having acknowledged the effort the Victorian Government went to, BDAV President Lindsay Douglas said his organisation was pleased that the Victorian Government had adopted a ‘top down, bottom up’ approach to address issues facing apartment design, standards and living.

There were some concerns that BDAV have with the new design standards, but they generally support any policy, guideline or initiative that improves the quality of design in Victoria.

“Building designers comprise approximately one-third of the State’s building design community and we look forward to working with the Victorian Government to help improve our members’ capacity to implement these new measures,” Mr Douglas said.

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Source: The Urban Developer