Internal Living Areas in Apartments

The matter of 631 Plenty Road Preston Pty Ltd v Darebin CC [2018] VCAT 1849 was concerned largely with the interpretation of Standard D24 of Clause 58.07 of Planning Schemes. That clause contains objectives to ensure apartments provide functional internal areas. The Standard of that clause includes minimum internal dimensions for bedrooms and living rooms. Living room standards are:

Studio and 1-bedroom dwellings: minimum width 3.3 metres, minimum area 10 sqm

2 or more bedroom dwelling: minimum width 3.6 metres, minimum area 12 sqm

The Standard also states:

Living areas (excluding dining and kitchen areas) should meet the minimum internal room dimensions specified in Table D8.

In the above Tribunal case the proposal provided living areas within a larger open plan room, also containing kitchen and dining areas, as is commonly designed in modern housing proposals. The Tribunal found that Standard D24 should be interpreted as requiring a living area envelope to be identified within the broader open plan room. A number of particular questions were raised in the case about the application of the standard whereby the Tribunal found:

  • Space needed for cupboards to open or other uses of the kitchen could not be included in “living area”;
  • The minimum width of the living area is the smaller of the two dimensions of that area. For example, where a living area is a rectangular shape of 3.3 x 3 metres, the 3 metres dimension will be taken as the width (irrespective of the way in which the living area is oriented within the open plan area).

In this case, the applicant had shown the dimensions and area of the “living area” within each apartment. Many of them did not meet the minimum dimensions of the standard.

However, because each living area was located within a broader open plan living/dining/kitchen layout, the Tribunal found that there was sufficient alternative space to meet the internal amenity requirements of future residents. That is, although the proposal did not meet the standard, it was considered to have met the objective of that Clause.

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