Gardens to be compulsory in more Victorian apartment complexes

The Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said apartment occupants increasingly wanted more from their homes

Gardens to be compulsory in more Victorian apartment complexes
Gardens to be compulsory in more Victorian apartment complexes

The Victorian government will mandate that new apartment blocks with more than 10 dwellings must have communal green space.

The Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said apartment occupants increasingly wanted more from their homes. “It’s essentially an understanding that for many people, their home is not just a sanctuary, it has also been a place where they work for the last 12 months,” he said.

“So amenity becomes a really important element in this conversation.” The current standard for communal open space applies to buildings of 40 dwellings or more. "Landscaping should not be an afterthought in building design and planning but incorporated from the beginning of the process," the department advised.

The Better Apartments Design Standards process began in 2018 with the aim to improve the liveability and sustainability of apartments across Victoria.

The latest announcement also advised apartment buildings taller than five storeys will be required to avoid “wind tunnelling” through sensitive design.

Balconies on buildings taller than 40 metres (13 stories) are set to be eliminated to reduce windswept underused balconies and allow the space to instead be provided as additional space in a living room or bedroom.

"The extra space given to a living room might provide a place to work from home, space for children’s play, or a concealed laundry and drying space," the department advised.

"More than ever, the coronavirus pandemic has shown us that all homes need to have access to air, nature, sunlight and personal space," it said. The apartment development industry, while mostly welcoming the announcement, indicated the updated design standards will prompt higher apartment prices.

The Victorian Government having released the preview of the standards will commence the new planning rules later in 2021.

The updated standards will not apply to applications lodged before the updated standards come into operation.

There appears to be no stipulation that gardens must be on the ground floor.

Read more: Property insider guide: 7 homes in Victoria with their own parkland

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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