Smaller flats on the way as new planning rules come into effect

Smaller flats on the way as new planning rules come into effect

Article from Irish Times Monday 7th March 2016

Last June, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly sent what now seems like a subtle warning to Dublin City Council, telling it not to put any “unreasonable or excessive” requirements in the city development plan which could damage the commercial viability of housing.

The following month, the council published its proposals for changes to the apartment standards for the development plan due to come into force at the end of this year, introducing a new category of studio, reducing the numbers of dual-aspect apartments, but retaining the overall size of apartments.

The council hadn’t quite got the message so the Minister and his department decided to spell it out for them in the form of the “Planning Guidelines on Design Standards for New Apartments”, which, for the avoidance of doubt, were mandatory and reduced the minimum size of apartments which could be built in Dublin city by 10-20 per cent.

The reasoning behind both the warning letter and the guidelines was to bring down the cost of apartment construction, caused, according to Kelly, by the “upward spiral of new planning requirements being specified by some, but not all, local authorities”.

Floor areas

And, so things were crystal clear, the Department of the Environment in recent days published its rationale for introducing the guidelines, and stated it was “not supportive” of the council’s floor areas.

But is it the size of apartments that’s making them too expensive to build?

The department’s analysis puts the cost of building apartments under the city council’s development plan standards, as opposed to the department’s guidelines, at an extra €22,000 for a one-bedroom unit, €15,500 for a two-bedroom flat and for €23,000 for a three-bedroom unit.