Victorians Say ‘Yes’ to Minimum Apartment Sizes 1

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Monday, January 18th, 2016
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Victorians have given resounding approval to the notion that their state should adopt minimum apartment sizes, with around three quarters agreeing that minimum sizes should be implemented for new high-rise and multi-residential dwellings.

All up, 76 per cent of those who took part in a survey conducted by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning together with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect either agreed or strongly agreed that there should be minimum apartment sizes to ensure that apartments had reasonable-sized rooms and storage.

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Moreover, limited room for storage was cited as the most significant bugbear of apartment dwellers ahead of noise, lack of affordable alternative housing options, an inability to have pets and the lack of a strong sense of community.

Almost two thirds of those surveyed indicated that the amount of storage space available to them was not sufficient for their needs.

The survey was conducted as part of a broader engagement process through which the Victorian government hopes to develop stronger regulations with regard to planning and apartment design.

This follows a period under the former state government whereby then Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved developments at many times maximum densities allowed in major cities around the world.

The process revealed a somewhat polarised spectrum of views, with many arguing for tighter requirements but with industry groups cautioning that this could impact the flexibility required for the market to deliver not only the most appropriate solution for individual cases and developments but also a sufficient quality of affordable housing within reasonable proximity to transport and employment links.

According to the survey, space was the second most important issue in terms of the inquiry, ranking behind daylight and ahead of natural ventilation, noise, energy efficiency and sunlight.

There was also a strong belief that natural light is beneficial for the health and well-being of apartment residents and that minimum standards for daylight access were required.

In terms of terms of space, there was agreement among most participants about the importance of adequate storage and a need for minimum sizes for both rooms and apartments as well as for greater choice through the provision of a variety of apartments with different numbers of rooms.

There was also agreement on the need for apartments to achieve high Green Star ratings, the requirement for multiple design solutions to ensure effective natural ventilation and the need for strong noise mitigation measures.

Still, a number of areas brought mixed opinions, including the best method for determining appropriate minimum standards for daylight access, apartment size and ceiling height as well as whether or not minimum standards are required for noise mitigation and whether or not natural ventilation is required for areas that can be ventilated mechanically.

Finally, in terms of what people liked and disliked about apartment style living, low maintenance and transport costs as well as proximity to cultural, social and employment opportunities ranked among the key attractions. Limited storage space, noise and a lack of alternative housing choices which are affordable rank among some of the main turnoffs.

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  1. Charles Litho

    I am of the generation that is old enough to have seen the nightmare situation in my part of Melbourne when it came to housing for the poor. It was not the State Government and regulation that delivered the answer but private investors. The shameful situation in a country that has never been overrun by invading armies and seen destruction was created by Government restrictions. As a teenager I hated anyone from Camberwell as I saw them as creating the restrictions and corruption with their political power.
    In my family it used to be that we kissed the hands of our respected elders and anyone else that showed themselves to be worthy. In my part of Melbourne I felt compelled to kiss the hands of the Jewish investors who started building flats adding to the housing stock with clean new housing that was affordable and not degrading. The only problem was that it was not enough of it.
    The Camberwell Stalinists did not like the “block of flats” and stopped the building almost overnight by changing the regulations.
    We now have the Grandchildren of the Camberwell Stalinists wanting to place further restrictions where their Grandparents left off. The problem with apartment size should be fixed by building more not building fewer apartments. No one can force you to rent an apartment if you have choice. The smallest apartment will in time have its rent lowered. In one suburb a new 40 square metre one bed room apartment with a backyard within walking distance of the railway line and shops has seen rents drop to $200 a week. Private investors have delivered new housing at a cheaper rent than the Government rents to the disabled poor.
    There vast numbers of people in Melbourne who are the working poor will never have a choice in housing unless we improve productivity and improve the numbers of apartments around Melbourne. It can still take as much as five years to start and finish a small project in Melbourne because of the restrictions and artificial costs imposed by the system. The waste of wealth and opportunity is incredible. Using artificial means to have the building industry create jobs for more people than should be productively employed is not doing anything for producing affordable housing. I will like to see the Premier go to his local Café and tell them you have to double the number of people it takes to make a cup of coffee, and, ask them what the price of the coffee is. The Premier may find he cannot afford the coffee, even with his salary.
    The answer to improving the housing situation may be that we bulldoze Camberwell and send them packing in refugee’s boats to Indonesia. How many generations have to suffer the restrictions of the Camberwell Stalinists? We have suffered enough we have turned the other cheek enough times.
    If a person has choice he will rent the bigger apartment, if he wants to save money he may rent the smaller apartment while he saves his money to buy his own. We need to give people choice that is all. The 40 square apartment for $200 a week is better than the house in the outskirts that would have taken the tenants 3 hours a day in travelling to work in a car.