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Smaller apartments are to be permitted under new planning guidelines published by the Department of the Environment. Minister Alan Kelly said that 8,000 residential units were needed to be built in Dublin this year, but fewer than 3,000 were delivered and the viability of new construction was holding back the supply of housing, particularly apartments.

John Lowe, The Money Doctor welcomes this initiative. He is aware of recent reports that large multinationals, particularly in software development, may not consider Dublin or Cork because of the shortage of suitable apartments. Typically, their staff are young people in their 20’s, many of them who have to be recruited abroad and are accustomed to city centre apartment living.

The new planning guidelines on design standards for apartments sets the minimum size of one-bedroom units at 45 square metres, two beds at 73 and three beds at 90 square metres. Studio apartments of 40 square metres will also be permitted in certain developments.

Up until now the minimum size for a one bedroom apartment in Dublin City and Cork was 55 square metres and for a two bed it was 90 square metres.

Under the new guidelines, the number of “dual aspect” apartments required in a scheme is reduced and North facing single aspect apartments may be considered where they overlook a park or a garden. Reduced purchase and maintenance costs will arise from what is described by the Department as overly burdensome lift requirements.

Significantly, these new orders take precedence over policies and objectives of development plans and local area plans and apply to all developments whether public or private. In a statement, the Irish Planning Institute says while these guidelines reduce local autonomy, they recognise the urgent need for an affordable housing supply. Minister Kelly has said he does not believe that the new guidelines are a lowering of standards and that they are design standards, not building regulations. This incentive is aimed at encouraging developers to build apartments in the city. He said that currently apartments are not being built because they are not viable projects for developers.

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