Craig Yelland On Design

9 years ago
3 minutes

With the announcement of the draft OVGA apartment guidelines, which proposes – among other things – a minimum apartment size for new buildings in Melbourne, Craig Yelland, Director at Plus Architecture, an award-winning architecture and interior design practice founded in 1997, shares his thoughts on why the proposed standards will devastate the industry.

Yelland, renowned for his hard-working, high-octane energy, lives and dies by the sword of apartment living, and firmly believes that Melbourne’s future needs to be invested in ‘upwards’ progression of the inner city, rather than the forever ‘outwards’ movement to critically under-resourced growth corridors. 

The proposed standards, which echo the State Environmental Planning Policy 65 – Design Quality of Residential Flat Development (SEPP 65) guidelines, which were enforced in Sydney in 2002, are proposing:

  • Minimum size of 37sqm for studio apartments and 50sqm for one bedroom apartments
  • 90 percent of apartments must receive direct sunlight and living areas must face north
  • All apartments above ground level must have a 2 metre deep balcony
  • 30 percent of building material used must be recycled or locally sourced
  • No more than eight apartments per lift per floor
  • No building should have a depth greater than 18 meters
  • Buildings nine storeys or higher must be separated by a gap of 12 to 24 metres
  • 2.7 metre minimum ceiling heights
  • Minimum storage provisions – 4sqm in a studio or one bedroom apartment

Yelland, who believes that where and how you live is a choice that you are entitled to, says “I fear the government is trying to push through its design guidelines without consultation with any professional body, at a grave cost to the industry and the end user.

“ Not only will the construction industry suffer huge job losses and the development industry will all but come to a standstill, but the cost per apartment for the end user will immediately increase by approximately $50,000 for one bedroom and around $120,000 for two bedroom apartments. 

“ Current average rental costs will also increase from $350 per week to $390 on a typical one bedroom apartment. Why should we take away the choice for a young professional earning a modest wage to be able to afford owning an apartment on their own?”

Yelland also notes the following repercussions:

  • The ability for inner city sites to house Australian population growth will be reduced by 45 percent
  • Development will be pushed to the fringe where infrastructure costs are greater
  • The planning process will slow down, making smaller development sites prohibitively expensive
  • A typical two storey office in an activity centre will be worth more than the site as an apartment development, therefore it will not be developed

Yelland is encouraging participation in the robust debate, stating “These new standards will have a severe impact on house prices in Victoria, which will not only effect us, but future generations of Victorians too. We must take a stand now and I encourage everyone, whether you are an industry professional or not, to join this discussion.”