DesignWA: public comment sought on policy for improving apartment design

DesignWA: public comment sought on policy for improving apartment design

A NEW comprehensive policy aimed at improving apartment design in WA is out for public comment.

Part of the state government’s DesignWA initiative to highlight design’s role in delivering quality developments, the draft Apartment Design Policy is set to provide consistent yet flexible guidelines to ensure complexes enhance neighbourhoods, as well as allow innovation.

An update to the planning codes for multiple dwellings, it covers building site and design, including natural light, ventilation and green spaces, for anyone designing, submitting or assessing development proposals.

Planning Minister Donna Faragher said good design would make buildings more liveable, sustainable and efficient, having a positive influence on suburbs and helping protect apartment values in the future.

“The draft policy for apartment design goes further than the appearance of a building; it guides how internal spaces function, which is essential when designing sustainable, liveable homes,” she said.

“The correct orientation of a building and the placement of windows not only have health benefits, they also have the potential to reduce the cost of heating, cooling and lighting.”

With about 380,000 of the new homes needed to accommodate a Perth population of 3.5 million by 2050 to be delivered through urban infill, Mrs Faragher said some market trends were not ideal.

“What we build now will be with us for many years, so we must get it right,” she said.

“I encourage everyone to have their say on this very important discussion.”

Housing Industry Association executive director John Gelavis said the release of the draft guidelines was a good first step in improving the way the community perceived apartment buildings in Perth, but he emphasised the need for clarity.

“Apartment living in WA is not as common as we see in other states, but apartments offer a great housing option for many, whether as renters or buyers,” he said.

“Ensuring builders and designers have a clear set of guidelines for these buildings can reduce the potential for conflict with local councils and the community when builders seek approval.

“However, the process and the guidelines need to be straightforward and include sufficient detail that people know what to do.

“Industry needs clear goal posts and certainty in the process.”

DesignWA also includes the draft State Planning Policy for Design of the Built Environment, draft Design Review Guide and draft Design Skills discussion paper.

The Australian Institute of Architects WA president Philip Griffiths said the institute was supportive of the policy and guidelines and was most interested in the skills paper.

“We are firmly of the view that all buildings above four storeys require the engagement of an architect,” he said.

“While there are benefits in having an architect on any building project, it is particularly important for our larger buildings, where design quality impacts on the consumer and the community.

“We will be providing specific feedback on the Design Skills Discussion Paper. While guidelines are invaluable in creating benchmarks, design quality counts at the delivery end, and we believe that architects are best placed to deliver on design quality, as well as providing protection for the consumer in project delivery.”

The public consultation period closes at 5pm on December 20.

More information is at