Submissions to the State Government’s ‘Better Apartments’ discussion paper closed at the end of July this year. Other councils tabled their draft submissions and these were ratified by a council resolution. In Glen Eira, not for the first time, nothing has been made public – except a link to the government’s website. We don’t even know whether council bothered to put in a submission and we certainly don’t know the content of any such submission. However, we do have an inkling of what might have gone into any formal submission judging by an officer’s report from July 2014 in response to a request for a report on apartment sizes. The ‘do nothing’ motion was carried by councillors.

Here is a reminder of what was stated at the time (all extracts from the minutes of July 22nd 2014)–

It is likely that if a minimum dwelling size is dictated, it would tend to become the default size and counter productive to dwelling diversity.

The current system largely leaves dwelling size to the developer whose interest is in responding to the housing market. It is considered that it is difficult to argue that town planning is best placed and therefore should intervene in dwelling size to a greater extent than it currently does.

Should Council wish to advocate for minimum dwelling sizes, this standard could best be accommodated in ResCode, the State Government’s design standards for multi-dwellings, for all Victorians.

A minimum size standard could lead to less diversity of dwellings, which would be less responsive to community needs.

Thankfully, not all councils are of like mind nor as bereft of good governance practices. For others, Council submissions are in full public view and are endorsed by councillor votes. Not so in Glen Eira. Here are some examples from published submissions that every Glen Eira resident needs to be cognisant of – if only to show once again how little this council cares about residential amenity when it is likely to be counter to the pro-development agenda that is ruining the lives of many. What Glen Eira sees as ‘detrimental’ such as mandatory apartment sizes, others insist upon! This in itself speaks volumes about the underlying philosophy that permeates and controls Glen Eira City Council.

FROM THE BOROONDARA SUBMISSION

http://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/-/media/Files/Your%20Council/Meetings%20and%20Agendas/Urban%20Planning%20Special%20Committee/20150720/UPC3%20Better%20Apartments%20submission.pdf

Council therefore submits that certain aspects of apartment design should be prescriptive to ensure consistent outcomes. This is of particular importance with regards to design elements that impact on the internal amenity of apartments. Council considers that minimum standards relating to apartment/building depth, ceiling height and apartment size should be mandated to achieve consistent outcomes.

Council does not believe that the policy-based approach is appropriate to achieve the desired outcomes. Reliance on a reference document similar to the current Guidelines for Higher Density Residential Development, as suggested by the discussion paper, is not an appropriate implementation method. Reference documents do not carry the necessary weight to influence decision making.

The development sector is driven by a desire to maximise financial returns on any investment. Any loopholes or weaknesses in the planning system are therefore exploited to maximise returns. Council considers that discretionary controls are a weakness that too often gets exploited by the development industry.

Council strongly supports the introduction of mandatory minimum apartment sizes.

There is significant research internationally and locally that provides strong support for the setting of minimum apartment sizes and the health benefits for residents.

FROM THE PORT PHILLIP SUBMISSION

The size of an apartment can be fundamental to achieving a high standard of amenity. Apartments need to be of sufficient size and layout to provide usable and comfortable spaces while accommodating basic furniture, providing sufficient circulation and adequate storage.

Council strongly supports the application of minimum apartment sizes

Specifically mandatory minimum standards should apply to:

  • Sunlight
  • Daylight
  • Separation distances
  • Apartment size
  • Private open space.

 

FROM THE PLANNING/HOUSING INDUSTRY (THAT SOUNDS LIKE GLEN EIRA CITY COUNCIL!)

http://www.planning.org.au/documents/item/6883

While setting minimum apartment sizes is encouraged in principle, this should be considered against the impact it may have on construction costs and consequently, housing affordability. If a correlation genuinely exists between the two, setting an apartment standard may not be ideal. However, more empirical data and information is required to make an informed decision on this matter. Functional considerations may provide a better way to determine the utility of design; for example, can a bedroom door be opened when a double or queen bed is placed in the room?

http://www.udiavic.com.au/files/document/filename/223/Submission%20-%20Better%20Apartments%20Discussion%20Paper.pdf

Avoid developing policies or performance based provisions which impose or suggest minimum or maximum requirements, sizes and ceiling heights.

To ensure that the current role of apartments in providing affordable housing options is maintained, minimum and maximum requirements, sizes and ceiling heights must be avoided.

http://www.planning.org.au/documents/item/6869

While we support the application of minimum apartment sizes as a key measure towards improving apartment liveability, we are cautious about the prospect of mandating minimum sizes, as a lot can be achieved through good design and layout.

 

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