Victorian building and design industry experts called for a cultural change to complement the State Government’s incoming Better Apartments guidelines.
This call has come after Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, Neometro Director James Tutton, BKK Architects’ Simon Knott and Karen Alcock from MA Architects sat together at a panel session on ‘Developing Policy’, hosted by Open Journal at MPavilion.
The discussion centred around improvements to apartment standards in Victoria and how to best support the creation of quality adaptable apartments.
Mr Wynne said this is a vital conversation given Melbourne will overtake Sydney as Australia’s most populous centre by 2050, with more than 90,000 people coming to live in the city every year.
James Tutton speaking at MPavilion.
“We weren’t sure what uptake we’d get in terms of interest in people in apartment living but there’s a real sense we’ve touched a nerve with these guidelines and people want to have a meaningful conversation about apartment living,” Mr Wynne said.
“There’s still an important conversation that has to be had about the technical aspects of these guidelines in terms of the approvals process and we have a group working on this and continuing to refine the guidelines and that will be brought to fruition in the next few weeks.”
Mr Tutton said the regulatory approach is one aspect that will help to improve apartment design in Melbourne but another important issue is that of cultural change, and normalising apartment living in Australia.
“There needs to be a recalibration and it is partly a regulatory thing but there’s a disconnect whereby the quality of an apartment is being assessed from purely a cash flow perspective that doesn’t take into account capital growth or depreciation.
“We need a more sophisticated conversation about apartments and how they work in a financial sense.”
Mr Tutton said apartments at Neometro’s Jewell Station project in Brunswick can be up to 10 per cent more expensive than other apartment projects in the area but that is down to better quality design, including from a public realm perspective. Jewell Station's value, for example, stems from an integration of "quality apartment living" with social infrastructure such as bike paths, communal gardens, public arts and events programs, a rejuvenated local park, cafés, and independent retail and meditation spaces.
“Educating buyers is difficult but they need to know that buying a high quality apartment is a positive financial step,” he said.
“Buyers who are better informed about the benefits of quality apartment design will push higher standards on developers and that can only be a good thing.”