It is notable that the Victorian government’s draft apartment standards require a significant proportion of apartments to be accessible to those with mobility constraints. These standards will give everyone reasonable space around a bed in a bedroom and around the shower and toilet in the bathroom, unlike in previous requirements which only allow access through the front door.
Urban vegetation is also taken into consideration in the draft. It is required for trees and other vegetation to be present on apartment sites above 750 square metres. This is expected to reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect which causes deaths in extreme summer heat spells.
The draft apartment standards also provide for larger balcony sizes that will enable outdoor entertaining. A common open space is also required in apartment buildings with more than 20 dwellings. This will serve as a venue for big gatherings and enable social interaction.
But in spite of these positive developments, design is compromised to meet the new draft apartment standards. It would have been better had the designs of these apartments met all the standards and been assessed by a suitably qualified panel of design experts. It is now a challenge for developers to come up with a design proposal that will meet all of the design standards and also minimum apartment sizes.
In addition, while the abovementioned draft standards will make apartments more accessible to those with disabilities, there should also be a call to action to make apartments just as accessible to those who are financially disadvantaged.
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