In 2020, we discussed the proposed Better Apartments in Neighbourhoods Discussion Paper just after the period for public comment had closed. At the time, we noted that although the guidelines aimed at improving safety, internal amenity and streetscape presentation of apartment developments, they could have a further impact on the viability and affordability of developing apartments in middle ring suburbs.

We note that some changes to the Standards have been proposed, including reduced area requirements for some balconies as well as the option of no outdoor space in select circumstances (additional indoor space can be provided instead). Another positive inclusion is provision of landscaped communal open space for developments of 10 or more apartments.

We note however that the draft guidelines include some Standards that we would argue are far too onerous, particularly for smaller apartment developments. For example, a wind assessment prepared by a qualified wind engineer is required for any apartment development of five (5) or more storeys. This is likely to be a costly exercise.

We further note that after much feedback, the requirement for a certain percentage of the site to be provided with tree canopy cover remains in the draft guidelines. This again is likely to restrict yield, particularly when developing in commercial zones (where areas of ground floor landscaping may not be typical or appropriate and are currently not required).

Although we agree with the principle of a number of the new Standards, we note that based on Urban Development Institute of Australia’s (UDIA) review of these requirements, there would be up to an additional $18,000 cost per apartment that follows the new guidelines.

The updated Standards are proposed to be implemented later this year (when exactly is yet to be determined).

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