Wellington Scoop

Controlling quality of apartments – could NSW guidelines be good for Wellington?

Opinion by Geraldine Murphy
Could the NSW approach to apartment design quality work in Wellington?

Since 2002, the NSW government has set standards and guidelines for the design of quality apartments. Eight aspects of design must be complied with by local government (eg, councils) through their development control plans (similar to our District Plans).

These eight areas are mandated through the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy No 65: Design Quality of Residential Flat Development (June 2015). The details of the objectives, design criteria and design guidance for each aspect is set out in the Apartment Design Guide.

The eight areas:

visual privacy
solar and daylight access
common circulation and spaces
apartment size and layout
ceiling heights
private open space and balconies
natural ventilation

The Design Guide applies for all multi-level, multi-household developments, not just in the inner city areas.

For Wellington, an important addition is the need to provide space for the emergency water storage that is now recommended – 200 litres per person for 7 days. This must be allowed for in the planning if we are to be a resilient city.

ICW believes a similar approach of guidance and mandating basic quality requirements is necessary in Wellington if the development of apartments in the future is going to achieve the goals of a liveable city with diverse communities of singles, couples, young families, older families and retirees who wish to make their home in the inner city.

Geraldine Murphy is Deputy-Chair of Inner City Wellington.


  1. Helene Ritchie, 15. October 2017, 20:19

    Thanks Geraldine. This would be a good start and is deserving of debate, discussion and then adopting by Council, with possible additions – common communal space, common outdoor space with some consideration of green building principles and practice?
    A good constructive piece.

  2. Michael, 15. October 2017, 23:01

    @Helene Ritchie: absolutely agree!

    In the council’s rush to try and speed up the building of affordable housing, there is a real danger of Wellington’s inner city becoming like other big cities around the world – full of overcrowded poorly designed apartments that do little to ensure a reasonable quality of life for the residents. Many cities are now facing up to the social and health issues produced by overcrowding and poor building design and are moving towards regulations to create environments that ensure the health and wellbeing of the residents. Wellington should be aiming to be at the forefront of residential design and development – not repeating the mistakes made by so many other cities.

  3. Ellen, 18. October 2017, 22:54

    Great idea Geraldine
    Quality apartments for a wide range of people is important – we also need some quality public spaces to match. There are few green spaces available in Wellington central – might be time to reallocate priority in some public spaces (eg roads).