The Planning Minister Richard Wynne on Better Apartments

The Planning Minister Richard Wynne on Better Apartments
The Planning Minister Richard Wynne on Better Apartments

Walking around some of Melbourne’s best-designed apartments recently, I was struck by how much design could make a small space feel like a home.

I was on the Robin Boyd Foundation’s exemplary apartment tour, showing off the best in Melbourne apartments.

In Victoria, there are some exceptional examples of how clever spaces, light and ventilation can add to liveability, and how apartments built some decades ago still hold their own today.

Victoria’s property industry is brimming with experts in clever design, the very people I’m appealing to contribute to the draft apartment guidelines our government is working on.

In May, I launched a discussion paper, Better Apartments, at the Planning Institute of Australia’s national conference.

The discussion paper was chosen as the best way to kick-start consultation. Rather than beginning with draft guidelines, I want the people who deliver apartments and the people who live in them to have their say from the start.

Developers are lured to Melbourne for its liveability and investment potential.

Record-low interest rates and a thriving property market have encouraged property investors and owner-occupiers to buy. These are some of the factors pushing up apartment approvals in the past few years.

While that is great news for the state’s economy and for our property industry, we need to make sure planning policy keeps pace with the surge in apartment living.

The rise in apartments has thrown up a red flag from local government, architectural and industry bodies around the standards of some apartments in Victoria.

While I’ve seen some great apartments, I have also seen some dogboxes - poorly designed with little access to natural light, airflow and storage.

The Better Apartments discussion paper raises those concerns and weighs up housing needs, market demands and building standards with the aim of improving liveability and affordability.

The government’s goal is to deliver sustainable housing outcomes, deliver on affordability, respond to the desire to live near jobs and services while also supporting investment.

The discussion paper’s focus is on internal amenity, as well as outlook and privacy.

While apartment sizes are a hot talking point, we must keep in mind that good design is the key. There are some fantastic small apartments offering good amenity, natural light and are affordable, just as there are plenty of poorly-designed large apartments.

We are working towards guidelines that give certainty but still allow for innovation and new ideas.

As well as Better Apartments, work has begun on a refreshed Plan Melbourne strategy and we have begun detailed work to plan the country’s biggest infill opportunity, Fishermans Bend.

We aren’t starting from scratch. Rather, major issues left out of Plan Melbourne and Fishermans Bend plans to date, such as energy efficiency, housing affordability and climate change, will be included.

Future planning work will also factor in the major infrastrcuture projects the Andrews Labor Government has committed to, such as the Melbourne Metro Rail project.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can deliver innovative, robust, world leading policy in apartment design. We will be holding stakeholder forums and already, online submissons and survey responses are rolling in.

We will strive to deliver apartments to balance affordability and liveability, in buildings which enhance the city skyline and the streetscape.

Melbourne leads the world in liveability, let’s see that reflected in our aspirations for apartment living.

http://delwp.vic.gov.au/better-apartments

The Hon Richard Wynne is the member for Richmond and the Minister for Planning. Follow the Planning Minister on Twitter.

Richard Wynne

Richard Wynne

Tags: 
Better Apartments Fishermans Bend Plan Melbourne Urban Industry

Comments (15)

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bilby
There's a difference between disagreeing with an opinion and not acknowledging one. I always try to acknowledge others' views by responding directly to their arguments and giving them the critical attention they deserve. Would you prefer I merely agreed with everything said on this forum? In any case, I'm not saying that people think that they are perfectly happy with their housing. In fact the opposite. If individuals are happy with their housing, whether a house or small 1 bedroom apartment, that is absolutely great. However, there are many people who end up in housing situations that they themselves consider far from ideal, even though there are other options available. For many, the trade-off between the 'burbs and the city is not worthwhile, even considering the space and amenity issues they may face in the inner-city or CBD. I still argue, however, that this doesn't mean that they would consider their home in the city to be well designed, or even pleasant. I will freely admit that my own home right now is downright uncomfortable and poorly designed, but I persist because I need to live close to work and close to the cultural life I enjoy. I grew up in the suburbs, and I won't return unless was literally forced to do so. That doesn't change the experience of my housing, though. So, my conclusion remains, demand for inner-city housing says little about how well or how poorly it is designed, and a great deal about how well it is located. I certainly wouldn't advocate changes to the design code that increase costs - I simply believe that better design = a better quality of life and ultimately, a better society for all.
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johnproctor
Honestly on this issue Bilby is just an auto-bot not open to considering anyone else's view of the world but his own. Its fine to strongly believe in your own opinion but to not even acknowledge the different opinion being put forward by others is pathetic.
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Martin Mankowski's picture

Demand for housing is not 'evidence' of how well or how poorly it is designed. What other options are there in this price bracket?

Like I mentioned above, the other options in that price bracket are to buy a bigger house, or even apartment, in the outer suburbs. However people are still choosing to buy a small apartment in the inner suburbs/cbd. Not because they have to, but because it suits their lifestyle. Because they are happy to make that trade off. And you want to take that choice away from them. The idea that, whilst they may think they are perfectly happy with what they have, deep down they are not, and that it takes people like you to point it out to them, is the height of arrogance.

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bilby
Demand for housing is not 'evidence' of how well or how poorly it is designed. What other options are there in this price bracket?
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johnproctor
^ the evidence is in the insatiable demand for the apartments that you say are neither large or well designed. They clearly are large enough and well enough designed for many owner occupiers and investors to purchase and for those investors to then rent out to applicants. You don't have to live in them and neither does the Planning Minister or anyone at the Victorian Government architects office. Many young professionals, local and international students, retirees looking for a city pad to match their tree change home are really keen to move into the inner city and the CBD in these 'dog boxes' because they don't see them as dog boxes, they don't see them as restrictive or depressing, they see them as a few steps away from everything the city has to offer including a park instead of a backyard or balcony, a restaurant instead of a full size kitchen, a gym instead of an exercise room, a library instead of a study. I plan to fill in the questionaire but frankly it is set up in such a way that most of my opinions on how the real world operates cannot be answered in the questionaire. As other writers have said on this site it is (deliberately or not) leading.
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