In defence of co-living developments


Sir, – Critics have been queuing up to have a pop at the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy about large-scale co-living developments. This is undeserved, in my view.

Having rented in smaller scale co-living arrangements for many years, I can say coming into a kitchen where the sink and counters are clogged with other people’s dirty dishes is no unusual circumstance in a semi-detached house shared with five other people, or even a flat shared with one. As one co-livee noted, sharing with other people soon knocks the edges off you.

The larger-scale co-living spaces recently proposed are reminiscent of the very large hostels encountered in countries like Australia. These institutions were of a scale that could afford caretaking staff to ensure that the inconsiderate manners of a minority of residents didn’t impinge too much on the better-behaved majority. Assuming that the proposed developments will support similar staffing, there is good reason to expect them to function similarly well.

I once lived for an extended period in a modern and well-planned housing development in Munich that contained a mix of dwelling types in the same building. Flats on the ground floor were large and designed for families, with direct access to the rear garden. Flats on the two upper floors were smaller, with balconies, intended for couples or singles. I occupied a single-room basement flat, designed for people of limited means. This had a kitchenette, but shared bathroom and laundry facilities with three similar flats. I was perfectly happy there.

The insistence by some in the midst of a housing crisis that all people, regardless of age or situation in life, are not just entitled to large, totally self-contained, high-spec homes, but also should not be offered the choice of anything else, is an aberrant ideology.

What is meat to one is poison to another – people must have choice. If people have options they can vote with their feet. That is the only way to ensure ultimately that all people are housed and that standards improve. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 7.