Dublin City councillors have approved plans to allow apartment blocks to up 24m, the equivalent of eight storeys tall in “low-rise” areas of Dublin city.
The decision means apartment blocks 5m taller than currently allowed in most of Dublin, would be permitted in the new Dublin City Development plan.
City council chief executive Owen Keegan had wanted to allow apartment blocks up to 28m tall – the same height that is currently permitted for office blocks, in "low-rise" areas of the city. Apartment blocks 28m tall would have reached nine storeys. The existing maximum apartment height through most of the city is 19m or six stories.
Several councillors wanted low-rise heights to be at the “traditional height of the city”, the “historic height of the city” or the height of “Georgian terraces”, which are about 14m tall.
Mr Keegan urged councillors not to go ahead with these restrictions. “Reducing the definition of ‘low-rise’ to the height of typical Georgian buildings . . . would have severe repercussions across the city in terms of employment, international competitiveness, housing provision, together with critical infrastructure such as transport and hospitals.”
Councillors late on Wednesday agreed a compromise motion keeping the maximum commercial low-rise height at 28m but increasing residential low-rise height to 24m .
Andrew Montague (Lab) who chairs the council's planning committee advocated for the 28m limit. "We have to make a choice: do we want to have high rents, high inequality and high homelessness or are we going to do the best for the people we represent. Cities that have restrictions on height have high rents and high homelessness."
Cieran Perry (Ind) said he didn’t know how anyone could consider nine storeys low rise.
People before Profit councillor John Lyons said anyone who believes 28m was low rise had been "spending too much time out in the sun".
Sinn Féin’s Seamas McGrattan said lowering the proposed heights of apartments “sends the wrong message from the city”.
“I agreed 28m and I haven’t seen anything to change my mind. My clinic is full of people who need housing.”
Dermot Lacey (Lab) said the city planners had always wanted high rise. "They are using the housing crisis as an excuse."
In the previous development plan 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 stories for offices; developments at rail stations could be six storeys for both 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- 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.