Regulations are essential - High rise disaster

AT its most basic the notion of high-rise apartments as a solution to urban housing pressures always has, and always will be, an uncomfortable or opportunistic compromise rather than an endeavour to maximise the potential for human happiness.

There are people (and it is, increasingly, the affluent) who love the lofty and exclusive views that are presented from a tower block, even more so when their modern developments have the soundproofing and social and community infrastructure so lacking in the brutalist 1970s versions.

The terrifying images of the inferno at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower — built in 1974 when Shepherds Bush/Westway/Notting Hill/Westbourne Grove were popular and affordable locations for the Irish and West Indian communities — remind us that building high into the sky carries great risk.

But in the benighted London property market, with no room for first-time ownership by the young, and with pressure on local authorities to capitalise on land assets there are more than 400 developments in planning which feature high rise, with more than 75% dedicated to accommodation.

In cities where real estate value is turbo-charged, as it is in London and as it is threatening to become in Dublin, the tower block is viewed as an investment vehicle and a means of maximising return. Regulations must stay ahead of demand. This didn’t happen first time round. But it must now.

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