Updated Apartment Development Draft Guidelines

On the 18th of December the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government published the updated draft guidelines for planning authorities on apartment development. The draft guidelines are intended to update the “Sustainable Urban Housing; Design Standards for New Apartments guidelines”,  published in 2015.

The new guidelines build on the content of the 2015 apartment guidance, much of which remains valid. There is no change to principal quality safeguards, including: internal space standards for 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments; the requirement for a majority of apartments in a scheme to exceed the minimum standard by at least 10%; floor to ceiling heights; storage and amenity space. The updated draft guidelines also reiterate that they apply to any housing scheme that includes new apartments, whether private or public, suburban or urban, new build or refurbishment, but are not ‘one-size fits all’ in every case particularly with regard to design quality safeguards such as internal space standards for 1-,2- and 3-bedroom apartments, floor to ceiling height, internal storage and amenity space.

In the context of what is now known about the likely future housing demand in Ireland, i.e. over the long term to 2040 the draft National Planning Framework (NPF) projects the need for a minimum of 550,000 new homes, at least half of the demand for which will arise in Irelands five cities (Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford). The draft NPF has also signaled a shift in government policy towards securing more compact and sustainable development, to enable people to live near to where jobs and services are located. This will necessitate a significant and sustained increase in housing output and apartment type development in particular.

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 full details of the new draft guidelines can be viewed on the Departments Website at http://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/guidelines/new-vision-apartment-living-our-cities-and-urban-centres.

 Their draft guidelines include updated provisions which will:

  • Allow a better mix of apartment types to meet housing demand in urban areas;
  • Make it easier to refurbish existing buildings and to do small-scale urban infill schemes;
  • Remove requirements for car-parking in more centrally located and accessible locations;
  • Encourage the potential of the emerging ‘build to rent’ and ‘shared accommodation’ sectors.
  • Clarify that the removal of any numerical height cap restrictions which will happen with the adoption of an approved National Planning Framework.

The proposed updates include:

  • Default of reduced or no car parking;
  • Clarification regarding location and density for apartments generally;
  • Greater flexibility in relation to apartment type mix, to allow more studios, 1 and 2 beds;
  • New provisions for studio-type accommodation (37m2, max 25% in new build, up to 50% studios/1-beds);
  • Loosening of restrictions on dual aspect requirements (33% dual aspect default in urban cores);
  • Increased units per lift/stair core per floor (previously 8, now 12);
  • Specific provisions for existing building refurbishment and small-scale urban infill schemes (on smaller sites of up to 1 acre/0.4 hectare)
  • Clarifications regarding how childcare and children’s play area requirements are calculated;
  • Addressing ‘Build to Rent’ and ‘Shared Accommodation’ sectors – both must be long-term centrally managed, BTR standards as per ‘normal’ apartments, different standard for shared accommodation. (no mix restrictions on build to rent).

McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan has considerable experience in bringing forward and project managing the planning application processes for a wide range of residential and mixed-use schemes, including Strategic Housing Development. Should guidance or consultation be required in relation to any items in this newsletter feel free to contact the office. 

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