Down the chute – Tribunal requires waste chute

As reported in the last edition of CBD News, managing waste in the CBD is becoming more of a concern with the increase in the number of apartments.

Ensuring efficient waste management within apartment buildings is also a design issue important for residents. In Riverstone Building Company Pty Ltd v Melbourne CC [2016] VCAT 1035, the tribunal considered an appeal against conditions on a permit for a nine-storey mixed-use building containing 53 apartments and one café in North Melbourne.

One of the conditions required a waste chute “connecting all levels of the building”. Council clarified that it was seeking a waste chute in each tower connecting to a collection area in the basement.

Both the applicant’s urban design and planning experts argued against the condition. It was contended that waste chutes:

  • Do not always function efficiently and create waste overflow if bins are not rotated frequently;
  • Require larger bins which can be difficult to move; and
  • Generate odour and noise in the bin areas and in corridor/services core at each level of the building.

The applicant’s counsel expressed concern that a waste chute for each tower element would require a substantial redesign of the internal layout of the building and that this significant change was not necessary to achieve a small benefit. In upholding the retention of the condition, the tribunal held:

  • Waste management is a relevant consideration in the planning controls and higher density design guidelines;
  • Nearby apartment buildings have waste chutes; and
  • A waste chute can be provided without a significant re-design of the building.

The tribunal also considered the argument put forward by the applicant that waste chutes are prone to breaking down is not a valid ground to not require such an important facility.

It noted that apartment buildings have many mechanical features, such as lifts, mechanical car parking systems, central heating and cooling, and security systems.

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