New apartment guidelines "amongst the most generous in Europe" - Kelly

They will reduce the minimum size of apartments to 45 square metres

Apartment guidelines, Department of the Environment, size, Alan Kelly, Cork, Dublin, household size

Image: Department of the Environment

The Environment Minister Alan Kelly says new plans for smaller apartments are amongst the most generous in Europe.

He published the new guidelines yesterday, which reduce the minimum size of apartments to 45 square metres and studios to 40 square metres.

Apartments account for 11% of all occupied households and almost one-third of occupied households in Dublin city, according to the 2011 Census.

The Department of the Environment say population growth, a move towards smaller average household size, an ageing population and a greater proportion of households in the rented sector mean this trend is likely to continue.

The new guidelines contain specific national planning policy requirements that will take precedence over policies and objectives of development plans, local area plans or strategic development zone planning schemes - and will apply to all housing developments, whether public or private.

But speaking yesterday, Minister Kelly sought to re-assure people concerned that the new guidelines would not mean a reduction in living standards.

"I will not stand for shoe-box living that was the hallmark of the Fianna Fáil governments of the past".

"Accordingly the guidelines will ensure living space standards that stand in very good comparison with apartment sizes in Europe generally by combining minimum standards with requirements that at least half or more of all apartments in any scheme must exceed the minima by at least 10% and in addition, the new guidelines will reduce hidden purchase and maintenance costs arising from overly burdensome lift requirements", he said.

And he told Newstalk Breakfast this will result in cheaper apartments.

But lecturer in housing studies with DIT, Lorcan Sirr, says the regulations have no economic rationale and are a return to shoe-box size homes.

"If you're trying to create a sustainable city where people live and they don't all want cars and they want to walk around the place and live near their work, you need to create apartments that people want to live in for a long time" he told Newstalk Breakfast.

"Not when you're 18 to 30 - then you get married, you move to the suburbs, buy a car and (are) commuting" he added.

Read the guidelines in full here