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Government cannot justify change to planning guidelines for new apartments - Eoin Ó Broin TD

29 January, 2018 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson, Eoin Ó Broin TD, has criticised Minister Murphy for bowing to industry pressure and amending the planning guidelines on design standards for new apartments, without any evidence base.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The Minister for Housing published the new draft guidelines for apartment building with one of the stated aims being to 'encourage more cost-effective apartment developments'.

“The driving force behind changing the guidelines is to make sure new apartments are built at 'cost that is more economically attractive to investors and developers'.  

“Therefore perhaps it is not surprising that the Minister has published no evidence to back the need to alter the 2015 guidelines. The Minister’s focus is not on making apartments cheaper to buy or rent.

“The only documentation provided at the last minute to back these changes was the executive summary of a report that had no data and no evidence base to back claims that apartment building is not currently viable.

“In fact it would appear from reports in the Sunday Business Post this weekend that Minister Murphy’s proposed changes to the guidelines were as a result of veiled threats by IRES Reit, who conveyed to the Minister their 'frustrations' with the State’s planning system.

“In our submission we clearly state that the Minister should not be altering planning guidelines based on unsubstantiated claims by the industry who claim construction costs are prohibitive to apartment building.

“We are also of the view that lifting the height restriction on residential developments will not reduce the cost of apartments, it will inflate the cost of land further.

“The concept of 'co-living' as laid out in the draft guidelines normalises the problem of the lack of affordable housing for a huge cohort of young people.

“The focus should be on the delivery of affordable one bed apartments where people want to live for a long period of time, put down roots and invest time in the local community.  Sinn Féin will not accept the argument put forward by this government is that this form of living will be cheaper.

“Sinn Féin has concerns that these guidelines are developer led proposals disguised as proactive government planning policy. It is reckless to change planning guidelines without any evidence base to support the basis for the changes.

“Instead of tweaking guidelines the Minister should focus on bringing forward a more ambitious affordable homes strategy, a vacant home tax and 'use it or lose it' planning permission.“

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