Better Apartment Design Standards

December 2016

Over the past weekend, the highly anticipated Better Apartments Design Standards (BADS) were released by the Victorian Minister for Planning.  

The new Standards come into effect in March 2017, when they are to be formally implemented in the Victoria Planning Provisions and all Planning Schemes.  Until then, planning applications will be subject to the existing planning scheme provisions, however, as has already been evident Councils are increasingly factoring in the Standards as part of their consideration of applications.

The finalisation of the BADS followed months of consultation with the community which has led to a number of changes to the more prescriptive aspects of the previous draft.

The key changes between the draft and final Standards are as follows:

  • Building setbacks are no longer a numerical value, replaced by reference to a ‘reasonable distance’ and a set of guidelines.
  • In addition to minimum bedroom dimensions, they are also now minimum width and total area of living rooms (increasing with number of bedrooms).
  • Room depth standard to apply to only single aspect dwellings and the ability to increase the room depth to 9 metres, previously 8 metres.
  • Ability to provide ‘snorkel’ bedrooms, if the snorkel is at least 1.2 metre wide and a maximum depth of 1.5 metres
  • Storage requirements increased, however now includes internal cupboards (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom etc). 
  • Solar access to open space amended from 50% to receive direct sunlight for two hours between 9am and 3pm on 21 June, to include ‘or minimum of 125 square metres’. 
  • Natural ventilation amended to at least 40% of dwellings should achieve cross ventilation, previously standard required 60% below 35 metres to be naturally cross ventilated and all windows openable below 80 metres
  • Breeze path for ventilation increased from maximum 15 metres to minimum of 5 and maximum of 18 metres.
  • Minimum balcony width for all bedroom types amended from 2 metres to 1.8 for one bedroom, 2 for two bedroom and 2.4 for three or more bedrooms. Two bedroom minimum area reduced from 10 square metres to 8 square metres. 
  • Trigger for communal open space increased from 20 dwellings to 40 dwellings and the area increased from 100 square metres to 250 square metres. 
  • Accessibility standard amended from all dwelling (except for 25% of all two bedroom dwellings) to 50% of dwellings

A copy of the BADS can be accessed here.

More information about the standards and next steps can be accessed here.

Should you want to discuss the proposed standards and/or make a submission, please contact SJB Planning on +61 3 8648 3500 or at 


Related Links
Sydney Indesign 2017
Australian Urban Design Awards 2017
Building our future
Fei Chau appointed Associate