Ministers warn Dublin councils against new housing standards

Councillors, others accuse ministers of ‘disgraceful intervention’ in planning

Architects and planners have criticised a request by Ministers not to introduce unreasonable or excessive building standards which could delay the quick delivery of houses in the capital.

Architects and planners criticised Minister for the Environment and Alan Kelly and Minister of State for Housing Paudie Coffey for their instruction in a letter telling Dublin local authorities to make “viability and early delivery” of houses the “top priority” of their development plans.

The letter, sent to the chief executives of the Dublin local authorities, comes as councillors debate building standards in what some claim is necessary to move away from “Priory Hall-type scenarios” where new homes were found to be a fire hazard.

It also comes after Dun Laoghaire Rathdown councillors voted to include a requirement requiring all new homes and commercial businesses be built to passive house standards, beginning as early as 2016.


The Construction Industry, and Nama as a significant land owner in Dublin, objected to the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown council move.

The Ministers wrote to each local authority telling the chief executives “viability of new development and therefore supply will be placed at risk by insertion of unreasonable or excessive requirements in relation to the standard of housing or ancillary services”.

The Ministers criticised standards or facilities that “impact adversely on the economic viability of commercial investment and deliverability of new housing development over the plan period”.

The Ministers’ intervention has been criticised since the letter was circulated on Twitter on Monday.

Fingal councillor David Healy said it was “most unusual” such a letter would be signed by Ministers and not civil servants.

Mr Healy said the letter appeared instead to refer to the builders’ and developers’ assessments of economic viability. He said the ministers were asking councillors “to keep standards low”.

The Minsters concluded their letter by reminding the local authorities that the ministers have a statutory role in approval of development plans.

They said their officials would be examining development plans “with a view to informing our statutory roles in the development plan process”.

“We would therefore request that you give due consideration to the matters above in your deliberations on the development plan”, the letter concluded.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist