New Vision for Apartment Living in our Cities and Urban Centres

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government have published updated guidelines for planning authorities on apartment developments, to ensure that the right stock of homes is being built, in the right locations, and at a cost that is more economically attractive to investors and developers. These guidelines have been issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála are required to have regard to the guidelines and are also required to apply any specific planning policy requirements of the guidelines, within the meaning of Section 28 (1C) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) in carrying out their functions.

These new Guidelines build on the content of the 2015 apartment guidance, much of which remains valid, particularly with regard to design quality safeguards such as internal space standards for 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments, internal storage and amenity space.

Accordingly, aspects of previous apartment guidance have been amended and new areas addressed in order to:

  • Enable a mix of apartment types that better reflects contemporary household formation and housing demand patterns and trends, particularly in urban areas
  • Make better provision for building refurbishment and small-scale urban infill schemes;
  • Address the emerging ‘build to rent’ and ‘shared accommodation’ sectors; and
  • Remove requirements for car-parking in certain circumstances where there are better mobility solutions and to reduce costs.

The new Guidelines also provide a target standard where existing buildings are to be wholly or partly redeveloped or refurbished for residential use that includes apartments, such as for example, vacant upper floors above commercial premises. The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 30 of 2018) provide for this type of change of use to be exempt from the requirement for planning permission and further encourage the development of apartment accommodation in our cities and towns.

A new chapter of these Guidelines addresses apartments in the emerging ‘build to rent’ and ‘shared accommodation’ sectors. These are rental only developments that are subject to centralised management arrangements, on a specified long-term basis, where individual housing units may not be separately sold for a specified period. They are also more likely to include the provision of added amenities for residents and other factors that allow for more communal lifestyles.

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