_Final Better Apartment Standards… Finally!

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has released the long awaited final Better Apartment Design Standards.  The release ends a long process of drafts and consultation periods, which began following the release of the Better Apartments discussion paper in May 2015.  It is expected that these standards will be gazetted into the Victorian Planning Scheme in March 2017.

The final standards will be assessed against the same performance based approach currently used in Clause 54 and 55 of the Victorian Planning Provisions.  Sixteen standards, which include objectives and design guidelines, have been introduced in the final release.

The following content is particularly noteworthy.

Functional Layout

Preferred minimum dimensions for bedrooms and living areas are provided to ensure they are functional and provide adequate space.

  • Main bedrooms: 3 metres X 3.4 metres.
  • Other bedrooms: 3 metres X 3 metres.
  • Living area (studio and 1 bedroom): 3.3 metres width and an area of 10 square metres.
  • Living area (2 or more bedrooms): 3.6 metres width and an area of 12 square metres.

Minimum total apartment sizes, which was a major point of contention during the draft and consultation periods, have not been included the final standards.


Room Depth

A single aspect habitable room should not exceed a room depth of 2.5 times the ceiling height.  Open plan areas that combine living, dining and kitchen areas can be increased to 9 metres provided the kitchen is located furthest from the window and the ceiling height is at least 2.7 metres in height.



A window in a habitable room should be located in an external wall.  The previous draft position, which effectively prohibited ‘snorkel’ or ‘saddleback’ bedrooms, has been revised.  Under the final standards, a window may provide daylight to a bedroom from a smaller area within the room, where:

  • the area is at least a minimum width of 1.2 metres;
  • a maximum depth of 1.5 time the width;
  • the window is clear to the sky.

Interestingly, the performance based nature of this standard indicates there is no mandatory requirement prohibiting borrowed light arrangements to bedrooms.



Collie recognises that whilst the tabling, consulting, revising and finalising of the design standards was a long process, it is an important step in improving the quality and liveability of apartments in Victoria and we congratulate the State Government on addressing this issue.  We also applaud the State Government in introducing a performance based approach to the design standards, as we believe it will encourage site responsive and innovative design solutions to future apartment developments.