Design Excellence

As our City’s population continues to grow at a rapid rate, it is essential to ensure that the buildings and environment our future communities live within are sustainable, accessible and liveable. To meet this need, Darebin has appointed its first City Designer. As the first government worldwide to declare a climate emergency, we are committed to ensuring development in Darebin is sustainable and addresses climate change through highly efficient buildings and use of renewable energies.

Council has developed the Design Excellence program is to improve the quality of development within Darebin so that we create sustainable and liveable neighbourhoods that will stand the test of time and help address the Climate Emergency.

As part of the Design Excellence program, Council has developed a range of initiatives that can meet the social, economic and environmental needs of our growing population. The program clearly outlines Council’s expectations, while also encourages developers to submit planning applications that have been well designed, improving amenity for both residents and the general community.

You can find out more information about the program and the initiatives that Council is implementing by downloading the document below.

Darebin Design Excellence Program Aug 2020



As part of the Design Excellence program Council endorsed two documents – the Darebin Good Design Guide - Apartment Development and Darebin Good Design Guide - Medium Density Development.

The guidelines for apartment development apply to all apartment and mixed use developments, whereas the guidelines for medium density developments apply to townhouse developments of two or more dwellings. They are intended to be used as part of the pre-application meetings and assessment of planning applications by permit applicants and statutory planners. Although they are not a mandatory requirement, they are an extension of the planning requirements and set out Council’s expectations in terms of design quality.

Architects and planning permit applicants are strongly encouraged to use the design guidelines as part of developing their design. The documents can be downloaded below:

Darebin Good Design Guide – Apartment Development

Darebin Good Design Guide – Medium Density Development



Council has developed exemplar designs for medium density development to guide high quality townhouse developments within Darebin. These designs have been developed in collaboration with Breathe Architecture, Kennedy Nolan and Six Degrees and envision what design excellence means for townhouse developments.

The exemplar designs build on the Darebin Good Design Guide – Medium Density Development and showcase how the guidelines can be applied in developing new designs. The exemplar designs are developed as generic design outcomes for a range of lot sizes that are common within Darebin.

Applicants are encouraged to use these designs as a starting point to develop their own plans and modify it as per the local context and requirements. Use of these plans does not guarantee a planning permit and the design will still need to respond to relevant controls and regulations.

The Exemplar Designs - Medium Density Development report provides further information about the key principles driving the design along with key moves for each design. The CAD files are available for each of the design to expediate the design development process. The designs are released under the creative commons license CC BY 4.0, see document for more details.

Click here to download the medium density exemplar design CAD files.

This year Council will explore the creation of Design Awards and focus on building internal capacity to create a shared understanding about good design. Council is also piloting a competitive design process for one of its own capital work project.

Additionally, Council will be strengthening its pre-application meeting process and strongly encourages applicants with developments of 10 or more dwellings to organise a pre-app meeting. This is a great opportunity to discuss the appropriate design outcomes for the site at an early stage and will provide more certainty to applicants. 

Visit the Pre-Application Meeting page for more information.


The City Designer is responsible for developing and implementing Darebin’s Design Excellence program.

As part of the program the City Designer will work closely with the planning team and the planning permit applicants at an early stage to clarify design expectations. Additionally, the City Designer is also working closely with various Council departments to ensure that Darebin is implementing and delivering Design Excellence.

For more information, contact:

Munir Vahanvati, City Designer or call 8470 8888.