The Irish Examiner View: Going up on housing is just kicking to touch

Minister questions height limits
The Irish Examiner View: Going up on housing is just kicking to touch
Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage Darragh O'Brien said he favoured scrapping height restrictions for certain areas. File picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Our housing crisis demands a radical, innovative response. It has persisted for far too long and it has become a limiting issue in far too many lives. It exposes far too many people, especially young people, to exploitation instead of offering them the kind of social supports, tangible or otherwise, needed to realise basic human ambitions.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien made a contribution to the debate when he said he favoured scrapping building height restrictions for certain areas. That, on the face of it, seems plausible at this critical juncture but is it? The tallest buildings in Dublin's Docklands run to 24 stories and it is hard to imagine that anything higher could have any relevance to anyone other than individuals or couples. The pandemic-driven shift to home working, one that seems all but irreversible, adds to those concerns too. Ultra high-rise may be appropriate in a metropolis of, say, 10m plus people but we have not reached that point, maybe we never will.

There are a lot of mid-rise options between today's norms and something towering beyond 24 floors. All of those options should be considered before today's height limitations are changed, especially as changing the rules seems a boon for developers rather than those trying to find a home.

This is the minister's first bite at the cherry so it must be hoped that, in time, he proposes something more radical, something more imaginative, and something that that might, similar to  compulsory purchase orders, be a real gamechanger.  

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