The concept of minimum apartment sizes has been rejected although windows will be required in key rooms and minimum levels of storage space will be needed under an overhaul of design standards in Victoria.
Unveiled by state planning minister Matthew Wynne, the Better Apartments Draft Design Standards set out draft requirements for new apartments across fifteen critical areas of design, including setback, light wells, room depth, energy efficiency, lighting, noise, storage, solar access, landscaping, accessibility, ventilation, lighting, waste, natural light and water management.
Amongst the most significant changes, windows which are directly visible from all points in the room will be required in all rooms which are considered to be ‘habitable rooms’, including bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and study areas.
Minimum storage space of six, eight and ten cubic meters will also be required for studio and single bedroom apartments, double bedroom apartments and three or more bedroom apartments respectively.
The storage can be provided either internally or externally, but must be over and above storage which would reasonably be expected in places such as kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, pantries, built-in robes, broom cupboards or linen presses and must be both secure and conveniently accessible.
But despite pressure from the community and parts of the design profession, the government has not seen fit to introduce mandatory rules for minimum apartment sizes amid strong resistance from property industry lobby groups.
In Sydney, one, two and three bedrooms must be at least 50, 70 and 90 square meters in size respectively, and there was speculation that Melbourne would go down the same path in terms of implementing minimum requirements in this area.
Architecture bodies expressed disappointment, saying that the guidelines had some useful initiatives but did not go far enough to protect the public interest in terms of its failure to implement minimum size requirements and a failure to implement key recommendations to facilitate best practice in design, such as through a design review panel process.
‘It’s clear that change is required,” Australian Institute of Architects Victorian chapter president Vanessa Bird said, adding that there had been too many poorly designed apartments throughout Melbourne in the past.
“Minimum sizes protect the public from the worst of the worst while the design review process enables innovation and flexibility.”
Property industry lobby groups, however, welcomed the rejection of minimum apartment sizes.
In a statement, Property Council of Australia (Victorian division) acting executive director Asher Judah said quality in apartment design was more about the space that was used as opposed to minimum sizes.