Better Apartments

May 17, 2019
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Better Apartments

The Better Apartments Design Standards have been introduced to improve the liveability and sustainability of apartments across Victoria. The standards were developed in consultation with community members, architects, planning and design practitioners, technical experts, the development industry, councils, and state government agencies.

The Better Apartments project is a joint initiative of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA).

Better Apartments Design Standards

The Better Apartments Design Standards were implemented in the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes via Amendment VC136 on 13 April 2017.

More information about Amendment VC136:

Implementation and supporting initiatives

Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria

The Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria assists applicants, architects, building designers and planners when designing and assessing apartment developments.

The guidelines explain the apartment standards and provide guidance on matters to consider when assessing the objectives of the apartment standards. The guidelines will also support greater consistency in the assessment of planning permit applications for apartment developments.

Planning Practice Note 83: Assessing external noise impacts for apartments provides guidance for assessing the noise standards and objectives and complements the Apartment Design Guidelines for Victoria.

Apartment Design Advisory Service (ADAS)

The Victorian ADAS offers free expert advice to assist developers and designers to comply with the Better Apartment Design Standards. Applications are now welcome!

Apartment Design Advisory Service (ADAS)

Buyer and Renters Guide

The Better Apartment Living Buyers and Renters Guide is available to help consumers make informed choices. The guide contains tips to assist people when considering renting or buying an apartment, and contains links to further information including checklists and rental advice provided by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

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West Gate Tunnel Project

December 4, 2017
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Benefits for Melbourne’s west

The West Gate Tunnel Project means less congestion and more reliable travel between Melbourne’s west and the city. Right now, it’s not unusual to experience bumper-to-bumper traffic on the West Gate Freeway or incidents that bring traffic to a stand-still. 

The West Gate Tunnel Project means less congestion and more reliable travel between Melbourne’s west and the city. Right now, it’s not unusual to experience bumper-to-bumper traffic on the West Gate Freeway or incidents that bring traffic to a stand-still. An incident on the West Gate Bridge can triple travel times for motorists. The project will deliver a vital second river crossing, quicker and safer journeys and remove thousands of trucks off the West Gate Bridge. 

Project includes 

  • Four more lanes on the West Gate Freeway between the M80 and the West Gate Bridge 
  • Three express lanes in each direction –  M80 to West Gate Bridge 
  • Twin tunnels and a second river crossing providing an alternative to the West Gate Bridge and new connections to the city’s north 
  • Smart technology linking with other freeway systems across the city to manage traffic flow and incidents and display travel information 

Construction from early 2018 Construction will begin after we have planning approvals - expected later this year - with works to be completed by the end of 2022. The Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the West Gate Tunnel Project has detailed information about how the project could affect people and the environment and how the impacts will be managed. The EES has assessed potential impacts in 17 areas including transport, air quality, noise, landscape and visual, vibration, business, ecology and human health. To view the EES  visit

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Melbourne takes top spot for seventh year running

August 18, 2017
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World’s most liveable city: Melbourne takes top spot for seventh year running

Melbourne has once again been named the world’s most liveable city by The Economist, receiving a perfect score for healthcare, education and infrastructure.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Liveability Index ranks 140 cities each year on those topics, as well as stability, culture and environment.

Top five most liveable cities:

  1. Melbourne
  2. Vienna
  3. Vancouver
  4. Toronto
  5. Adelaide, Calgary

Vienna once again came second and Vancouver third.

Adelaide was the next best Australian city finishing in fifth spot, followed by Perth at number seven. Sydney was ranked 11th.

It was a record seventh time in a row in the top spot for Melbourne, which scored 97.5 out of a possible 100.

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the EIU’s index was the most widely accepted city rankings system.

“This world record is an amazing feat that all Melburnians should be extremely proud of today,” Cr Doyle said.

“This accolade is an important selling point for Melbourne internationally: for businesses to invest or move here, for the best and brightest people to make Melbourne their home and for tourists to visit us.

“There will always be naysayers and whingers, and of course we are not perfect. No great world city is, but we should be very proud of the work we all do together to make Melbourne the best city in the world.”

Low crime rate gets Melbourne across the line

The report said the ongoing threat of terrorism around the world affected a number of scores.

It noted Melbourne’s relatively low crime rate as one of the main reasons it outranked other highperforming cities, despite an increase in robberies and thefts in the last 12 months.

However, Melbourne is not without its problems.

The city has been struggling to deal with a rising and increasingly visible homelessness crisis, with more people sleeping rough in the CBD than ever before.

The issue of housing affordability is also causing stress as property prices continue to rise, locking many out of being able to afford their own home.

The price of renting is also high, with almost all suburbs considered unaffordable for those on low incomes.

Public transport is also bursting at the seams. Last month, the entire train network ground to a halt during peak hour after a computer glitch.

Rating ‘glosses over realities of life in Melbourne’

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive Emma King said the Economist’s index painted a distorted picture of life in Melbourne.

“These blunt measures gloss over the realities of life in Melbourne for many people,” she said.

“Did The Economist survey anybody who’s living under a bridge or skipping meals to pay their power bill?

“Melbourne is a great city. But, for many, it provides anything but an easy life.”

But the Victorian Government spruiked the city’s “world-class health care system” and strong economy, saying 100,000 new jobs were created in the state last year.

“There’s a buzz about the city that keeps bringing the world’s best to enjoy Melbourne,” the Government said in a statement.

“The biggest exhibitions, the best events, world-renowned restaurants and allnight public transport to get you home safe.”

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Better Apartments for Victorians

July 11, 2017
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Better Apartments for Victorians

Improving the liveability and sustainability of apartments in Victoria

Creating better apartments

How we choose to live is changing, and apartments are increasingly the preferred housing choice for many people. Apartment construction in Melbourne and regional cities provides our growing population with an alternative to traditional, detached housing. It also provides affordable and diverse housing options and well-located housing for people at all stages of life.

People want enduring apartment developments in which to live and invest. This calls for fair and effective processes to assess apartment developments, similar to those for detached housing.

Until now, Victoria has provided limited design guidance for apartment developments compared to other Australian and some international jurisdictions. This has resulted in poor apartment designs that provide inadequate long-term living environments.

State and local governments, planning and design practitioners, the development industry and the public all share responsibility for improving the liveability of our urban environments.

To improve liveability, new apartments must be well-designed and meet the needs of many different types of households including the young, people with limited mobility, families, middle-aged downsizers, and the aged.

We need to ensure apartments have adequate daylight access, privacy, outlook, functional internal and outdoor space, storage, natural ventilation and acoustic protection to improve the health and wellbeing of residents. We also need to design apartments to meet the needs of people with limited mobility, and to help protect the environment by encouraging recycling and waste minimisation, energy and water efficiency, and by providing adequate

landscaping to minimise stormwater run-off and to help cool our urban areas.

In setting the basic standards for internal apartment design, the Victorian Government is taking action to ensure Victorians have high-quality housing choices that offer long-term liveability.

We developed the apartment standards in consultation with planning and design practitioners, the development industry, councils, technical experts and the public. The extensive consultation process started with the release of Better Apartments – A Discussion Paper in May 2015 and concluded following the release of Better Apartment Draft Design Standards in August 2016.

Well-designed apartments will ensure that as Melbourne and our regional cities grow, good design leaves a positive legacy of better apartments for future generations.

New apartment design standards

The apartment design standards provide a consistent framework for the design and assessment of apartment developments in Victoria to ensure they provide:

• desirable and affordable housing choices

• safe and healthy living environments

• enhanced liveability and sustainability

• a legacy of quality housing stock for future generations.

The standards respond to community concerns about the internal amenity of apartments. They will provide the development industry with greater certainty, and encourage investment in Victoria. In response to feedback received from planning and design practitioners and the development industry on the August 2016 draft design standards, the new apartment design standards allow for greater flexibility and innovation in apartment design.

The standards will apply to all apartments and adopt the same performance-based approach currently used to assess residential developments (ResCode).

In March 2017 the standards will be implemented in the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes and new supporting tools and processes will be introduced:

• Best-practice design guidelines for designing and assessing apartment developments, which will include examples of how the standards can be applied in different urban contexts.

• An education and training program for council and private-sector planning, building and design practitioners about the design and assessment of apartment developments in line with the new standards, also considering alternative design solutions. The program will start in March 2017 and will comprise a number of free sessions.

• A design review process to provide guidance and advice to local governments about how to assess more complex apartment developments.

• An apartment buyers and renters guide, to help buyers and renters make informed decisions.

Detail can be found in this pdf Better-Apartments-for-Victorians

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Homes for Victorians announcements

July 7, 2017
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Homes for Victorians announcements

Duties Act 2000

Land transfer duty has been abolished for first-home buyers who purchase a property valued at or below $600,000 and phased in for properties valued up to $750,000. The exemption and concession apply to dutiable transactions arising from a contract entered into on or after 1 July 2017.

The off-the-plan duty concession is restricted to properties acquired by owner/occupiers who are eligible for the principal place of residence or first home buyer duty concessions. The concession is no longer available for residential investment property purchases or commercial property purchases. These changes apply where the contract is entered into on or after 1 July 2017.

First Home Owner Grant Act 2000

The First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) has been doubled to $20,000 for new home purchases in regional Victoria. First-home buyers of new homes in metropolitan Melbourne will continue to receive the $10,000 FHOG amount.

The $20,000 FHOG is available to first-home buyers who purchase a new home valued up to $750,000 in regional Victoria. The property must be used as their primary place of residence for a continuous period of 12 months, commencing within 12 months of completing the eligible transaction. It applies to contracts entered into from 1 July 2017 to30 June 2020.

Land Tax Act 2005

From 1 January 2018, vacant residential properties in the inner and middle ring of Melbourne will be subject to a vacant residential land tax of 1 per cent of the property’s capital improved value.

A property will be considered vacant if it is unoccupied for six months or more in a calendar year. The six months does not need to be continuous. Land owners will be required to notify the Commissioner in writing by 15 January if they own vacant residential land in the previous year.

Existing land tax exemptions may apply to vacant residential land but there are some new exemptions which apply solely for the purposes of the vacant residential land tax. These exemptions include holiday homes, city properties used for work purposes, property transfers during the year and new residential properties.

Transitional arrangements will be in place for the 2018 tax year. All properties will be deemed “occupied” for the purpose of this tax for the period January to April 2017 (inclusive) to give property owners sufficient time to consider the impact and adjust their behaviour accordingly.

For more information please go to

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Office closed over Christmas/New Year Period.

December 20, 2016
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The team at APH would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday and a wonderful new year. We thank you for your continued support in 2016 and look forward to sharing new projects with you next year!

Our office will be closed from the 23rd December and will reopen on the 9th January.

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The Melbourne Metro Rail Project

January 21, 2016
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The Melbourne Metro Rail Project

Melbourne Metro's twin nine-kilometre tunnels will take two of the busiest rail lines out of the City Loop, creating space for more trains to run more often across Melbourne's rail network. 

The project will create a new end-to-end rail line from Sunbury in the west to Cranbourne-Pakenham in the south-east, with high capacity trains and five new underground stations at Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and at Domain. The project is currently in the planning and design phase. 

Consultation has begun with residents along the proposed corridor to raise awareness of the project and build our understanding of the needs and wants of residents, businesses, landowners, councils and other stakeholders. 

More information can be found here. 

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Foreign investors illegally buying Australian properties face new penalties

December 1, 2015
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View the original article here

Foreign investors who have illegally bought Australian properties have been told to declare themselves by December or risk facing tough new penalties including three years' jail and fines of up to $637,500.

The Federal Government unveiled the new measures today, arguing authorities had failed to properly police laws making it illegal for foreigners to buy established homes in Australia. Under the changes, foreign buyers who breach the rules will face three years in jail and fines of $127,500 for individuals and $637,500 for companies.

Third parties, including real estate agents and developers, who knowingly help those buyers will also be penalised with fines of up to $42,500 for individuals and $212,500 for companies.

The Government has also announced foreign buyers who are forced to sell a property will be prevented from profiting from the sale. But Treasurer Joe Hockey said investors can avoid prosecution if they come forward by November 30. "I say to foreign investors, you have until the end of the year to declare yourselves," he said.

"If you do not come to us, we will come to you because eventually we will find those people that have engaged in unlawful acquisition of Australian real estate and we will prosecute you and we will be very hard about it." Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he believed there was broad community support for the new measures, arguing "there was no doubt" that foreign investors who illegally bought existing homes were "driving up" house prices.

"If all foreigners are doing is adding to the housing stock, that tends to reduce prices but once foreigners come into existing housing stock, that tends to increase prices," he said. "So what we want to do is ensure that illegal foreign investment is not unnecessarily driving up prices."

Mr Hockey said since issuing a "divestment order" on a Sydney property that had been illegally purchased, a number of other buyers had come forward. "We are investigating a further 100 cases at the moment. For example, one case in WA involving a property of around $800,000, the foreign investor has come forward, self-identified," he said.

"They will be forced to sell their properties but they will not be subject to criminal prosecution by the Commonwealth Government but they will need to sell their properties." The Treasurer said the foreign investment rules would now be enforced by the Australian Tax Office rather than the Foreign Investment Review Board because the ATO had access to state and federal data, including immigration records.

The Government has also confirmed it will push ahead with plans to impose a $5,000 fee on all foreign investment applications for residential properties valued up to $1 million. Higher fees will apply to more expensive properties as well as business, agriculture and commercial real estate applications.

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Park yourself in prime location

November 8, 2015
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A new apartment project at Doncaster East is creating a lot of excitement among local "downsizers" because of the generous size of the homes and its convenient location. The Season's, at 180 to 210 Reynolds Road, is across the road from The Pines shopping centre and next to vast parklands. 

"At last a developer has built something that the local market has been screaming out for," says CBRE managing director of residential projects, Andrew Leoncelli. "These are the biggest and most luxurious apartments that have ever been built in the Doncaster area that we have ever worked on and ever seen. We've been crying out for new stock that we know the local Baby Boomers are wanting to buy for downsizing. Until now, they haven't yet seen anything that's big enough and luxurious enough that's also convenient to all the lifestyle attractions they seek such as shops, parks, cafes and transport.

"The develop, JD Group has excelled with The Seasons, not only in securing a great location, but in terms of scale. The apartments are very generously sized - there are three and four-bedroom options that are really appealing to downsizers - and the finishes are exceptional."

The development is broken into four separate buildings - Blossoms, Cedar, Oak and Maple - aptly names after trees in the surrounding parklands. Two-bedroom apartments of 80-plus square metres are priced between $600,000 and $700,000. 

"That's an appealing price point for buyers considering the median apartment price in Doncaster East is $686,000 and the average rent is $440 per week," says Leoncelli. 

CBRE Research shows that 41 per cent of all households in Doncaster East are in the top income brackets, earning more than $105,000; and 75 per cent of all residents have lived in the area for at least seven years. "Our research also shows a lot of Baby Boomers are wanting to capitalise on the strength of the local housing market; sell their family home, buy an apartment off the plan and bank the money from the sale in their retirement fund. Our research shows that in 1991, less than five per cent of all town planning approvals in the eastern suburbs were for apartments. Fast forward to 2014 and it's 30 per cent - that's 500 per cent growth. We expect that by 2050, 60 per cent of all dwelling in the eastern suburbs will be apartments or townhouses."

For more information of The Seasons, click here

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The Changing Face of Melbourne’s Most Liveable Suburbs

November 7, 2015
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A recent study by Deloitte Access Economics and planners Tract Consultants ranks Melbourne’s 321 suburbs according to 15 criteria, including crime, transport, access to schools, shops, cafes, parks and  – for the first time – mobile and internet access. The city is shuffling its weight from the south side of the river to the north. Turning its gaze from the leafy east towards the funky west.

Below are the top 50 suburbs – for the complete list and to find out which suburb would suit you best, click here.

How does your suburb rate?

  1. East Melbourne
  2. South Yarra
  3. Toorak
  4. Armadale
  5. Melbourne
  6. Elsternwick
  7. Albert Park
  8. Ivanhoe
  9. Parkville
  10. North Melbourne
  11. Clifton Hill
  12. Balaclava
  13. Fairfield
  14. St Kilda East
  15. Carlton
  16. Princes Hill
  17. Gardenvale
  18. Hawthorn
  19. Carlton North
  20. Elwood
  21. Alphington
  22. Brighton
  23. Ashburton
  24. Travancore
  25. Hawthorn East
  26. Canterbury
  27. Sandringham
  28. Kew East
  29. Ripponlea
  30. Prahran
  31. Glen Iris
  32. Windsor
  33. Abbotsford
  34. Kew
  35. St Kilda
  36. Williamstown
  37. Malvern East
  38. Fitzroy North
  39. St Kilda West
  40. Northcote
  41. Box Hill
  42. Malven
  43. Brunswick East
  44. Kooyong
  45. Caulfield North
  46. Black Rock
  47. Blackburn
  48. Glen Huntly
  49. Hampton East
  50. Caulfield South


This article is an extract from this report in The Age.

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