Victoria Releases Updated Apartment Design Guidelines


The Victorian Government has released new guidelines to improve design standards for new apartment buildings in Victoria.

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne released Apartment Design and Urban Design Guidelines for Victoria, to help state agencies, local councils, developers and consumers better understand recent improvements to design standards.

The government has already introduced new standards that ensure new apartments were built with light, storage, ventilation and enough room to fit beds and furniture.

“We promised to put an end to cramped, dog-box apartments with borrowed light and no ventilation," Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said.

“We’re cracking down on dodgy apartments and giving the industry the tools and resources it needs to comply with new standards that protect owners and tenants.”

“Our public space is what defines our city and what makes Melbourne the best place to live in the world. It’s vital that we get the planning right so that it stays that way.”

These new guidelines will help developers meet their obligations and help local councils get their approvals right.

The state government is planning a design advisory service to offer specialist advice to developers.

The voluntary process will be aimed at larger-scale apartment developments and will include advice from experienced apartment design specialists such as architects, building designers, urban designers and planners.

An apartment buyers and renters guide has also been developed, giving prospective apartment buyers and renters up-to-date information about apartment standards.

The Labor government has also introduced new urban design guidelines, which are all about improving the design of public spaces and getting the design of buildings right so they integrate with areas around them.

The guidelines will be an easy-to-use, interactive, online source of information – replacing a set of guidelines that have been in place more than a decade.

Both sets of guidelines are available at

After the release of the original guidelines, "Amendment VC136" was put into effect, which introduced a new definition for the term 'Apartment' under Clause 72 and changes the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) and all Victorian planning schemes:

  • Inserting a new Particular Provision at Clause 58 (Apartment Developments) which introduces new standards for apartments of 5 storeys or more (excluding basement) in a residential zone and all apartment developments in other zones
  • Amending Clause 55 (Two or more dwellings on a lot and residential buildings) to include new requirements for apartment developments (4 storeys or less);
  • Deleting Clause 52.35 (Urban context report and design response for residential development of five or more storeys)
  • Amending Clause 43.05 (Neighbourhood Character Overlay) to prevent Standards B35 (energy efficiency objectives) and B49 (natural ventilation objectives) of Clause 55 from being modified in a schedule to the overlay, and
  • Amending the following zones to require apartment developments of 5 storeys or more to meet the requirements of Clause 58 and to update the decision guidelines to require the responsible authority to consider Clause 58.

[Related reading: Victorian Government Ready to Launch New Apartment Standards in 2017]

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