New rules will allow higher apartment blocks with fewer windows

Minister to announce measures intended to make apartments cheaper to build

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is to announce a number of changes to planning guidelines largely in relation to apartment buildings. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is to announce a number of changes to planning guidelines largely in relation to apartment buildings. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Height restrictions on residential buildings are to be altered to allow for easier construction of high-rise developments in cities across the State.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is to announce a number of changes to planning guidelines largely in relation to apartment buildings including the removal of a requirement to have car-parking spaces.

He also intends to increase the cap on the number of units that can be on a floor for every lift or staircase from eight to 12. The necessity for apartments to be dual-aspect, meaning they must have windows on two different walls, will also be changed.

Mr Murphy said the measures would address a number of challenges including making it more cost-effective to build apartments.

The most significant change is the removal of the height restrictions. Currently residential developments in low-rise areas of inner-city Dublin can be only six storeys (about 24m high), with lower limits in the suburbs.

The Minister intends to remove that cap and instead use the suitability of the site as a guiding principle.

“It was clear to me upon taking office that we had a particular problem in this area. While there might be plenty of cranes across the skyline of Dublin for example, the vast majority are building offices, not homes. We need to turn this around,” he said.

Parking spaces

The restrictions have been widely criticised by business leaders and developers who believe they hindered apartment supply. The requirement to have a car-parking space per apartment was also widely condemned and it has been claimed by the Construction Industry Federation that this can add up to €100,000 to the cost of building a unit. Under the revised guidelines, developers would have to justify the need for car-parking in central city areas.

The Department of Housing has insisted there will be no change to principal quality safeguards, including internal space standards for one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments; floor-to-ceiling heights; or the storage and amenity space requirements. The updated provisions will offer greater flexibility in relation to apartment type mix, to allow more studios and different types of one-bedroom accommodation.

The shared accommodation initiative will see the construction of high-rise developments catering for hundreds of people, with shared services offered to tenants. In the individual apartments, residents would have their own bedroom and ensuite, but would have communal kitchen and livingroom facilities.

“They’ll allow for ‘shared living’ options which I believe will be very attractive to our multinational sector with its young and mobile workforce,” Mr Murphy told The Irish Times. “We’ll see the right types of homes being built, with more studios and one- and two-bed apartments.”