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Tuesday 12 December 2017

No restriction on new building height to ease homes shortage

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

There is to be no upper limit on the height of new buildings in Dublin and other main cities.

The move is designed to increase the number of new homes in Ireland.

In a radical re-think of the country's planning laws, the Government will also remove the need to provide parking spaces in new housing developments within 1km of a Dart, Luas, urban rail link or bus corridor.

The changes, which will be rolled-out before the end of the year, are aimed at combating urban sprawl and reducing the cost of building new homes.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will today also outline plans to develop "shared accommodation" for younger workers.

Cost

He will tell the autumn conference of the Irish Planning Institute that new measures are also needed to encourage build-to-rent projects.

While the number of new homes is increasing, builders are reluctant to develop apartment blocks because parking spaces can add up to €100,000 to the cost of a home.

The most contentious element of the plan will be a review of urban building heights. This will lift the cap on maximum heights to allow residential development to occur "where it makes sense".

Sources said high-density development had failed to occur in new areas earmarked for development, such as the Docklands, due to restrictive rules.

Planning regulations will be introduced setting out the context in which high-rise will be allowed, but the minister can expect a backlash from councillors, who set maximum heights as part of the development plan process, and who will state the case that their powers are being eroded.

"There's an arbitrary six-storey cap in Dublin City Council," said one source said.

"We're not saying you can put high-rise on Merrion Square, but it could be appropriate in the Docklands.

Sprawl

"There will be guidelines, and everything will have to go through the planning process. Right now, it seems heights are arbitrary."

The shared accommodation model currently applies to student-only residences, but is available in London and Manchester.

An en-suite bedroom with kitchenette is typically provided, with tenants - typically young workers - sharing kitchens, living spaces and laundry rooms.

The changes will be enacted when the National Planning Framework is finalised by year-end.

The plan says that 50pc of the one million expected increase in population by 2040 will be consolidated in the cities, to prevent further urban sprawl.

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