As the reward for being a diligent filler-outerer of the Better Apartments survey, I was recently invited to be part of the one day community workshop run by State Government. The aim of the Minister’s discussion paper is “to kick-start a citywide conversation with the community and industry to shape apartment design guidelines” and this workshop was the community’s chance to speak up.
In the workshop, we toiled doggedly through each of the amenity issues detailed in the discussion paper. Low, medium and high density apartment developments were discussed at the same time without much acknowledgment of their very different parameters or amenity impacts. Time was tight so the coverage was broad rather than deep.
While there was the occasional, and expected, plea to “leave it to the market”, the large majority of participants agreed that the key characteristics of good housing deserved deeper consideration than what a developer's bean counter could provide.
There was broad support for certain mandatory standards in combination with performance based standards. A “traffic light” or scorecard type system was discussed as a way to forgive shortcomings in some areas if other standards could be sufficiently exceeded. This flexibility acknowledges the diverse nature of development sites, market demographics and developer preferences. Most importantly for architects, it builds in the possibility for design to provide innovative solutions on difficult or unusual sites that might not otherwise satisfy a rigid set of non-negotiable standards.
The responses from the 3 workshops (council, industry and community) will now feed into the Draft Options Paper being developed by an expert working group. The Final Options Paper is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
DOWNLOAD the Discussion Paper and find out more about the process