Housing plan: Significant increase in housing densities and smaller gardens under consideration

Minister for Housing to outline new policy proposal which will allow smaller houses and gardens

The Government will consider significantly increasing the density of housing in urban areas as part of a new policy approach to boosting the housing supply.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining new proposals on settlement guidelines which would mean increased densities of housing and more compact developments.

If the policy is adopted the guidelines will allow smaller houses with smaller gardens and with smaller distances between neighbouring houses.

The new policy will replace the sustainable residential development guidelines which date from 2009. The Government will put its proposed new guidelines out to public consultation later this year.


Under the current guidelines, densities of up to 35 dwellings per hectare (dph) are allowed in smaller towns and villages, densities of 35 to 50 dph are allowed in outer suburban and greenfield areas of cities and large towns, and densities of 50 dph, and over, are allowed in more central and accessible urban locations.

Under the proposed new guidelines, densities in cities will be allowed increase to between 100 dph to 300 dph in central areas. In large towns, densities of up to 150 dph will be allowed in town centres and urban areas and densities of a maximum of 80 dph in suburban and edge areas.

In smaller towns, permitted density will depend on the nature of the settlement.

Another new change will be the space between dwellings. The proposals set out a reduction of the distance between the backs of houses, or duplex units, from 22m to 16m.

In relation to gardens or private open space, the current standards range between 55 square m for smaller houses up to 75 square m for a four-bed house. It is understood the new proposals would reduce the minimum requirement to 40 square m for a typical two-bed house and 60 square m for a typical four-bed house.

The proposals, to be published later this week, will also address car parking with a significant reduction of spaces in heavily urbanised areas with access to services such as public transport, walking and cycling.

In rural areas and in towns where there is less access to public or sustainable transport, the proposal is believed to set out a maximum of two car-parking spaces per dwelling.

Meanwhile Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin has described Neasa Hourigan as a “very valuable” member of the party as it remained unclear whether the rebel TD will back the Coalition in Wednesday’s confidence motion in the Dáil.

Dublin Central TD Ms Hourigan has been suspended from the Greens’ parliamentary party for 15 months and also lost all her Oireachtas committee positions after voting against the Government in a motion on the eviction ban last week.

Ms Hourigan has not yet responded to queries on whether she will support the Government in the confidence motion, which has been put forward by the Labour Party over the Coalition’s handling of the eviction ban issue.

In a further indication of strain on the housing market, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said about 800 hotel rooms being used to house refugees will be lost this week.

The number of recently arrived international protection applicants who are without accommodation stood at 408 as of Monday evening.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times