Industry criticises failure to test size of apartments

Ibec’s property division says it called for working models to test Government guidelines

Property industry representatives and planners have said they urged the Department of the Environment to test new rules on apartment sizes six months before there were introduced.

Builders, architects, planners and local authority officials were called to a meeting at the Custom House last July to discuss the “viability” of smaller urban apartments.

Last month, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly issued Planning Guidelines on Design Standards for New Apartments, that reduced the minimum size of apartments that could be built in Dublin and elsewhere.But the mandatory guidelines did not reduce the minimum size of rooms within the apartments and, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland has said, this will make the apartments impossible to design.

Peter Stafford, director of Property Industry Ireland, Ibec's property division, said he had urged the department to produce working models or "exemplar designs" to test any new apartment sizes.


“We suggested last July that if any parameters were being changed there should be exemplar designs to demonstrate they would work.”

However, Mr Stafford said he heard nothing more from Environment before the guidelines were published.

The department had said that the Irish Planning Institute had "welcomed and approved of" the new guidelines.

Evidence-based approach

But the institute said on Monday that in July, it had emphasised that an “empirical, evidence-based approach to amending apartments standards” was “essential” and in November called for an opportunity to comment on a draft of any amended standards.

Saying that it had not seen the RIAI research, the Planning Institute said Environment must investigate its “implications”, given “the limited scope for planning authorities to deviate from them following recent legislation”

In a statement on Monday the department said its planning, architectural, housing and surveyor advisers were satisfied the apartment standards could be implemented by planning authorities.

The Dublin City Development Plan had set the minimum size of one-bed apartments at 55sq m, two-beds at 90sq m and three-beds at 100sq m. The new standards – which took effect immediately – set one-bed apartments at 45sq m, two-beds at 73sq m and three-beds at 90sq m, but the component parts, ie the rooms, remain the same.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times