_Better Apartment Design Standards Update

The Victorian State Government has recently released draft changes to the Better Apartment Design Standards (known as BADS), with the changes aimed at improving the livability and sustainability for future apartments residents.

As Victoria’s population grew in the last decade, apartments became recognised as an essential part of housing choice and can be more affordable and more convenient for access to work and services, when compared to detached dwellings in the suburbs.  It is acknowledged that Covid 19 has dented the enthusiasm for the present but the overall advantages of increased housing choice remains. 


The changes proposed for the draft BADS update include the following.

  • Apartment buildings with 10 or more dwellings will need to provide communal open space for residents.  The spaces should be accessible, easy to maintain and functional.  Under the existing controls, an apartment building needs to have 40 dwellings or more before this is a consideration. 
  • They are to be built from high-quality, durable materials to ensure they do not easily deteriorate or stain, that they weather well over time and that they are resilient to the wear and tear of their intended use.
  • They are to have attractive and engaging street frontages with easy access for pedestrians and cyclists.  High walls should be avoided with car parking entrances and waste collection designed not to be viewed from the street.
  • Those over five storeys should be designed so they do not cause excessive wind affects on pedestrians and users of nearby public spaces.
  • Under the existing controls, north and south facing balconies may overshadow living rooms and bedrooms in the apartments below and their depths can be reduced to allow more sunlight whilst still providing a functional outdoor space.  The proposed changes are:
  • north facing balconies can be reduced but must still allow space for a table and chairs;
    • south facing balconies can adopt a narrow space that will integrate with the indoor living space and still cater for an outdoor table and chairs;
    • east and west facing balconies can accommodate a deeper space and no changes are needed.

The goal of these changes is to ensure that apartment buildings better respond to resident needs. 

Whilst still in draft format, it is understood that the State Government is giving the industry time to adapt to the proposed changes before formally introducing them later in 2021.

In response to the proposed changes, many in the industry note the benefits they will bring to future residents, especially in relation to the increased open space requirement, but also note the changes may increase prices for apartments.  

Of course, the changed provisions will be tested eventually by how the words are translated into approved new apartment building design. 

For further information on the proposed changes, refer to the link below.