Shelter NSW media release – 21 February 2012
A new report from Shelter NSW looks at the building standards and development controls that help to make life more amenable for those residents — specifically, those standards and controls that protect and promote audio privacy and visual privacy.
Mary Perkins, the Shelter NSW executive officer, said: ‘These two things help people get along with their neighbours. They are important to ensure that high residential densities go hand-in-hand with good amenity in Sydney and other major cities.’
The report, Dwelling with visual and acoustic privacy, was commissioned from consultant Jack Barton.
Barton identifies the various government policies and instruments that regulate multi-unit developments in Sydney. These ‘cascade’ down from Commonwealth government, state government, and local governments, to owners corporations.
Barton also interviewed a small number of stakeholders, including the NSW Land and Housing Corporation and City West Housing, two key providers of affordable-rental housing in New South Wales; the latter’s property developments have been exclusively high-density in brownfield sites in inner Sydney.
Barton comments: ‘Managing light and sound in dense urban environments is a very important issue when designing spaces for human habitation. If done correctly, spaces are well lit, well ventilated and residents can effectively control the amount of interaction they have with their community. Issues of noise, nuisance or annoyance in multi-unit dwellings can be offset and minimized with design and construction measures.’
Barton suggests that well-designed regulations play a role that extends beyond simply setting minimum performance standards. ‘Although compliance with tighter codes might incur extra costs, this up-front diligence can mitigate problems later. This has a strong social dimension in the long term and helps improve residents’ overall quality of life.’
Dwelling with visual and acoustic privacy (Shelter Brief no. 50) can be downloaded from the Shelter NSW website.