When is a north facing window within 3 metres of a boundary on an abutting lot?
Practitioners will be familiar with Standard B20 at Clause 55.04-4 which states:
If a north-facing habitable room window of an existing dwelling is within 3 metres of a boundary on an abutting lot, a building should be setback from the boundary 1 metre, plus 0.6 metres for every metre of height over 3.6 metres up to 6.9 metres, plus 1 metre for every metre of height over 6.9 metres, for a distance of 3 metres from the edge of each side of the window. A north-facing window is a window with an axis perpendicular to its surface oriented north 20 degrees west to north 30 degrees east.
In Laliotis v Darebin CC  VCAT 751, the Tribunal had to decide whether a north facing window setback 3m from the boundary was “within 3m” for the purpose of the Standard B20 assessment. The Tribunal followed the reasoning of the then President of VCAT in Jurkic v Manningham CC  VCAT 2515where the following was said:
She suggested that a distance of 3 metres was not “within 3 metres”. During argument I observed that a window which was 2.999999999 metres from a boundary would be “within 3 metres”, and that it would be usual to express such a distance as 3 metres. Hence, from a practical point of view where windows are specified as being 3 metres from the boundary, they should be regarded as being “within 3 metres”.
Given the Tribunal’s finding on this matter, we recommend that applicants ensure the feature and level survey accurately dimensions the setback of north facing windows from boundaries on abutting lots. That is because the difference between a setback of 2.99m and 3.01m is significant when it comes to applying Standard B20.