Alan Kelly rejects ‘shoe-box living’ claims over new guidelines on apartment sizes

Environment Minister Alan Kelly yesterday continued to reject claims new guidelines on apartment sizes will create “shoe-box living”.

Alan Kelly rejects ‘shoe-box living’ claims over new guidelines on apartment sizes

Mr Kelly said the changes, which will allow developers to build apartments 27% smaller than the current guidelines, will make homes “more affordable”.

However, there has been mixed reaction to the new regulations, which allow for studio-style apartments where sleeping and living areas can be combined to allow for a total apartment size of just 40 sq m.

Mr Kelly said: “We have made changes to ensure there can be apartments built that are actually affordable. There is no point in having standards in place if nobody is going to build them.”

The guidelines contain specific national planning policy requirements that will take precedence over local area plans or strategic development zone planning schemes. Robin Mandal, president of the Royal Institute of Architects Ireland, said the changes would not solve the housing crisis and urged greater flexibility .

“In principal having national standards is a good thing but there really should be a large amount of variety allowed depending on the place, demands, and population,” he said.

He added that allowing smaller apartments may not necessarily bring down costs and urged all developers to pass on savings to buyers.

“We don’t think that reductions of 10% of floor area will amount to a 10% reduction in cost. This will not solve the housing crisis, what will solve the housing problem is building more houses and allowing flexibility, there has to be flexibility of housing standards.”

Fianna Fáil’s leader on Dublin City Council, Paul McAuliffe, described the rules as unrealistic. “There is no comparison between requirements for apartments in a low-density city like Waterford and an area like Dublin.

“The minister is taking powers from councillors at the will of the construction industry. He is deciding to set overall standards rather than allowing councillors in different cities and towns use their local knowledge.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the guidelines are “shameful” and would mean people living in boxes.

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