Simon Coveney 'uncomfortable' with building height restrictions during housing crisis

Housing Minister Simon Coveney has said he is “uncomfortable” with height restrictions adopted by Dublin City councillors at a time of a housing crisis.

Mr Coveney recently made a submission to the Dublin City Development plan calling on councillors to abandon rigid height restrictions for future apartment blocks.

A departmental letter to Dublin City Council warned that the overall effect of these restrictions — adopted by councillors last May as an amendment to the draft city development plan — would “seriously affect the practical delivery” of new housing at a time when it is so urgently needed.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Mr Coveney said: “I and my department were uncomfortable with the restrictions adopted by councillors. I am not proposing that we build very high accommodation in suburban areas in normal housing estates. But in urban centres where higher heights are more suitable, we should be looking to that. We need more people living in high-density, high-quality accommodation in city centre locations.”

He stopped short of ruling out introducing a ministerial diktat to override the council rules.

In response, Dublin City Council said: “The matter in relation to height is being dealt with in the Dublin City development plan which has just been the subject of a second-round of public consultation.

“All submissions in relation to height, including submissions from the minister and the department, are included in the chief executive’s report which has been circulated to the city councillors for their consideration at special meetings of the city council, to be held on September 23 and 26.”

Those who are already in good-quality accommodation have benefitted from the rent stability measures, Mr Coveney said, but he said freezing rents would not solve the rental crisis: “Ultimately you can decide to freeze rents in the morning but that doesn’t actually solve the problem.

“The main problem here is there simply isn’t enough accommodation in term of supply so the conditions have to be there to encourage significant investment in large-scale rental accommodation.”

Mr Coveney said he wants to encourage more large-scale investors into the market to develop a “continental approach” to renting where people could rent for life if they wish.

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