Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Draft Guidelines on Design Standards for Apartments for public consultation

I saw this yesterday evening, but didn't have a chance to put it up. All planners will be pleased to hear that the DoELGH has finally published the much anticipated Draft Guidelines on Design Standards for Apartments for public consultation. I'll try to get a review up as soon as I can, but here's a chunk of the press release:

The primary aim of these draft guidelines is to promote sustainable urban housing by ensuring that the design and layout of new apartments will provide satisfactory accommodation for a variety of household types and sizes – including families with children - over the medium to long term.

The focus of these draft guidelines is on the apartment building itself and on individual units within it. While there has been a general trend towards larger average apartment sizes over the past decade, these draft guidelines provide recommended minimum standards for:

· floor areas for different types of apartments,
· storage spaces,
· sizes for apartment balconies / patios, and
· room dimensions for certain rooms.

The draft guidelines also refer to the different housing needs in different areas, as reflected in housing strategies and local housing demand. Target average floor areas and a mix of unit types and sizes are suggested in new apartment developments, to help to ensure sustainable residential communities and facilitate integrated developments for different categories of occupants. For example, the draft guidelines recommend that no more than 10% - 15% of units in any apartment scheme of, say, 20 or more units should be of the one-bedroom type (save in exceptional cases, such as student accommodation), because of their incapacity to cater for families.

These new guidelines will form part of a suite of guidance being prepared by the Department within a wider housing/planning context, which will include:
· new draft planning guidelines, provisionally entitled "Sustainable urban housing: Planning for new residential developments", which will incorporate a revision of the 1999 residential density guidelines;
· a new best practice handbook on urban design and housing layouts which will illustrate, with examples drawn from current practice, how the policies set out in the planning guidelines might be implemented; and
· a revision of the 1999 Social Housing Design Guidelines.

In welcoming these new draft guidelines, the Minister highlighted the need for the guidance "to reflect the rapid changes in Ireland's demographics and settlement patterns over recent years, the need for more compact urban design, better integration between residential development and physical and social infrastructure and the overriding aim of building sustainable communities which will contribute to a good quality of life for all our people".

The Department welcomes any comments or submissions on the draft apartment guidelines up to close of business on Monday 5th March 2007. The finalised guidelines will subsequently be published by Minister Roche under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. This requires planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to have regard to them in the performance of their functions.

However, pending finalisation of the guidelines, planning authorities are being requested to have regard to the recommended standards for new apartment schemes, when preparing or varying development plans and local area plans, particularly when their current plans incorporate older standards.

Here's the link:

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