The Government's Housing Agency wants Dublin City Council to lower its apartment size rules and allow the construction of rental-only "studios" 27 per cent smaller than the current minimum size.
John O’Connor, chief executive of the agency set up to advise the Government on housing policy and help local authorities provide housing, is urging the council to reduce permitted sizes of one-, two- and three- bedroom apartments to restart construction and make homes more affordable.
He is also seeking the introduction of a category of rental apartments that could be 40sq m – more than 27 per cent smaller than the smallest one-bed apartments allowed by the council, and similar to the lowest sizes allowed in the late 1990s. The average floor area of an apartment granted permission in the first quarter of this year was 96.9sq m. The smaller units would suit a “young mobile workforce”, Mr O’Connor said.
The council will next month start the process of drawing up the new city development plan, which comes into force in 2017, but Mr O’Connor wants the changes to be introduced now to address the crisis in the availability of homes to buy or rent.
His calls are supported by the Construction Industry Federation and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.
However, the proposals have been rejected by the council’s planning department and councillors chairing the city’s housing and planning policy groups.
In 2007, the council increased minimum permissible sizes to 55sq m for a one-bedroom apartment, 80sq m for a two-bed, and 100sq m for a three-bed. The Department of the Environment’s national standards allow a minimum of 45sq m, 63sq m and 76sq m respectively.
Very few homes have been built in Dublin since the council introduced its larger space standards. Mr O’Connor said the council should consider what was “economically viable to build” and what was appropriate for particular areas and particular types of occupiers.
“In the case of long-term managed rental accommodation, 40sq m studio apartments should be considered where there are appropriate compensation facilities provided in the particular development.” Such facilities would include communal laundry rooms and function rooms.