Wednesday, 19 September 2007

New national planning guidelines for apartments

National planning guidelines for apartment buildings, which will for the first time compel developers to meet minimum standards for size and design of apartments have been published by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Until now, developers have been permitted to determine the size of apartment units and the space given to storage, balconies, and outdoor areas within their developments, as long as they secured planning permission from their local authorities.

National planning guidelines for apartment buildings, which will for the first time compel developers to meet minimum standards for size and design of apartments, are to be published today by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Until now, developers have been permitted to determine the size of apartment units and the space given to storage, balconies, and outdoor areas within their developments, as long as they secured planning permission from their local authorities.

Minimum sizes were in place for tax-incentive apartments, known as Section 23 apartments, built in urban regeneration areas since the mid-90s. However, these standards were not enforceable at a national level.

The new guidelines set minimum floor space sizes ranging from 45sq m for a one-bedroom apartment to 90sq m for a three-bedroom apartment. Minimum storage areas for these apartment will range from 3sq m to 9sq m, while minimum balcony areas will range from 5sq m to 9sq m.

The guidelines state that "dual aspect" apartments, i.e. apartments with windows on two sides, should be the norm while single-aspect units facing north should not be permitted. Storage should be provided for "bulky items" in kitchens and bedrooms, communal drying facilities should be provided in larger schemes and bicycle parking must be provided.

The new standards fall somewhat short of recent guidelines published by Dublin City Council for apartments within its area.

However, the principal planning adviser with the Department of the Environment, John Martin, said the department's guidelines should be seen as a minimum requirement.

"We hope that a significant number of apartments exceed these standards," he said.

Olivia Kelly

© 2007 The Irish Times

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