Dublin City Council asked to reverse apartment height limits

Minister for Housing concerned that low-rise restrictions could hamper supply of homes

The Minister’s concerns on apartment height will be presented to councillors when they next month vote to ratify the Dublin City Development plan. Photograph: Getty Images

The Minister’s concerns on apartment height will be presented to councillors when they next month vote to ratify the Dublin City Development plan. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney wants Dublin City Council to reverse plans to restrict the height of apartment blocks that can be built in the city, because of the risks to future housing supply .

Last May councillors voted to limit the height of apartments in low-rise areas of the inner city to 24 metres and to 13m in low-rise areas of the suburbs. Most of Dublin apart from 13 specific areas falls into the low-rise category.

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan had wanted to set 28m as the maximum height for low-rise apartments in the city centre (the same height currently permitted for office blocks) and 16m as the height for suburban apartments.

The Department of the Environment has written on behalf of Mr Coveney to the council warning that the restrictions would have a negative impact on the delivery of much-needed housing the city.

The limit of 13m, which would confine an apartment block to four storeys, was of particular concern as it would seriously undermine the viability of developing apartments, said the Department.

The overall effect of inner and suburban reductions in height will be to “seriously affect the practical delivery of the housing units” and the department said the council should revert to the heights recommended by Mr Keegan.

Concern was also raised about plans to reserve large plots of land at some of the council’s social housing regeneration areas for open space. This specifically referred to the requirement that 15 per cent of the lands at O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7 and 20 per cent of the land at St Teresa’s Gardens in Dolphin’s Barn be reserved as open space. The department asked the council to “be mindful” of the need to promote housing in these areas.

Development plan

The Minister’s concerns will be presented to councillors when they next month vote to ratify the Dublin City Development plan.

Other submissions made to the council said the low-rise restrictions conflicted with the council’s draft-development plan which stated that unsustainable low-density development with extensive urban sprawl and unsustainable travel patterns should not be continued.

In his report on the submissions Mr Keegan said an example illustrating the point had been made to the council which maintained that on a site of 10,000sq m , a 13m height limit, or four storeys, would deliver 75 apartments but a 16m height limit,or five storeys, would deliver 95 apartments.

In the previous development plan the heights in the “low-rise” categories were expressed in storeys as well as metres. In terms of storeys there was little difference between apartment or commercial blocks: in the inner city low rise was defined as up to six storeys for residential and up to seven storeys for offices; developments at rail stations could be six storeys for apartments and offices; while in the rest of the city low rise was defined as four storeys for both.

However, because of the lower ceiling heights of homes as opposed to offices, the use of storeys meant the inner city low-rise apartments could be 19m and offices 28m. At 28m the maximum height for most of the city would be half the height of Liberty Hall (59m).

Councillors have not sought reductions of mid-rise and high-rise areas. Nine areas have been designated as suitable for mid-rise buildings (up to 50m), and four, the Docklands, and George’s Quay, Connolly and Heuston can have high-rise buildings in excess of 50m.