Government to remove blanket restrictions on urban building height

The Housing Minister wants to encourage viable high density developments in city centres

Government to remove blanket restrictions on urban building height

Eoghan Murphy at the Irish Planning Institute Autumn Planning Conference 2017, 06-10-2017. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

The Housing Minister is to scrap restrictions on building height in urban areas around the country.

Speaking at the Irish Planning Institute’s autumn conference this morning, Minister Eoghan Murphy said the height restriction on apartment blocks often “do not make sense” – however he warned there will be no free-for-all for high rise developments.

Minister Murphy also called for more studio and one-bed apartments as well as specialist developments for older people and down-sizers.

He said he is also considering communal living apartment blocks – similar to those used for student accommodation – for young professionals.

“We have to free ourselves from the mindset that everyone will live in a three bedroom house at every stage of their lives,” he told the conference.

Planning regulations

The Minister will also seek to bring down the cost of building apartments, by reducing the requirement for parking spaces in new builds.

Announcing the proposal, he insisted that people do not need the expense of a car that is “lying idle” in cities where there is sufficient public transport on offer.

“The onus will be on the developer to prove why there should be car-parking places provided in apartment buildings,” he said.

“Basically we are going to remove the requirement that there should be any parking spaces at all.

“I have also announced my intention to remove the numerical height when it comes to restrictions for building apartments.

“This is to make sure that we have viable high density developments - particularly in our city centre cores.”

Speaking ahead of the conference this morning, the president of the Irish Planning Institute, Deirdre Fallon warned that any changes to the system must be made with the future firmly in mind:

“We need to ensure that the housing that we build now is going to meet the needs of communities today and into the future,” she said.

“While there is an obvious need to deliver housing urgently in the short term, this can’t be at the expense of the quality of housing that is provided.”

She said “quality has to be paramount” when planning for the future adding that we need to “make sure that we are delivering the housing that people and communities need.”

She said land prices could be “dampened down” with the introduction of a “windfall tax” – with the proceeds to be “ring-fenced for local government infrastructure and the development of community facilities.”

“The quality of housing we provide now and into the future can’t be reduced as part of any quick-fix measures,” she said.

“There are certainly some costs involved in building housing but we believe that some of the underlying costs need to be looked at.

“For example in terms of land costs and measures that would encourage people to redevelop underused sites in urban areas.”

The IPI is also advocating for a “site-value tax system” aimed at forcing landowners and developers to put land into use for housing.