BADS updates: what’s changing in 2021?

March 2021

The pandemic lockdowns of last year caused many apartment-dwellers to reflect on what they really need from their homes. And in a timely announcement in late February, we’ve learnt that updated Better Apartment Design Standards (BADS) are expected to be implemented into Victoria’s Planning Scheme later this year.

The BADS evolution has been ongoing since 2017, with the Labor government making a key election commitment to further improve the standards in 2018. This latest iteration is the result of stakeholder consultation that focused primarily on external amenity standards (completed in 2019). It’s likely that the updates have also been influenced by the increased focus on wellbeing brought about by 2020’s pandemic.

According to the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, the new standards will ensure that Victoria’s high density living puts “liveability and wellbeing at the heart of its design.”

Here’s our wrap-up of what’s changing (and why).

1.    More greenery and communal open space.

Any apartment building with 10+ dwellings will need to provide easily accessible, functional open space – and all apartments will need to have landscaping incorporated from the beginning of the design process.

2.    Better wind conditions.

For apartment buildings of 5+ storeys, the design will need to minimise any wind impacts to surrounding areas to keep them pleasant and safe. Requirements for private open space have also changed, specifically for balconies facing north or south, or located 40m+ above ground level.

3.    Improved integration.

When designing street frontages, blank walls or high fences need to be avoided, and utility areas (parking, waste collection etc.) shouldn’t be visible from the street. This makes streets more engaging and attractive.

4.    A focus on external materials.

Building facades need to be durable, high quality and make a positive contribution to the surrounding streetscape.

When can we expect these changes to be implemented?

The exact timeframe is still TBC, but we expect to see the new standards put in place later this year, giving everyone in the industry time to understand the ins and outs. The new standards also won’t apply to any planning applications lodged before they’re formally implemented, and we understand there will also be a two-month transitional period.

You can find more on the new standards here. And, if there are any points you’d like to talk through with us, feel free to get in touch. We’ll keep you posted with further news as it breaks.


The SJB Planning team.

Images: Cantala Apartments, Caulfield North
Photographer: Aaron Puls

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