I thank the Deputy for the question. In 2018, I published updated Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines for Planning Authorities under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The guidelines propose one possible format for shared accommodation or co-living units comprising two to six bedrooms, including en suites, those bedrooms being larger than standard bedroom sizes, with a common shared area for living and kitchen facilities, which would have a maximum occupancy of eight people. While the guidelines do acknowledge that other formats may be proposed for consideration by individual planning authorities in certain circumstances, the articulated format is a strong guide to what is expected from this emerging sector.
In assessing proposals, planning authorities are required to ensure that sufficient communal amenities are provided in accordance with the specified standards and that the scale of the development is appropriate to the location and buildings involved. They must also be cognisant of the specific role that the development of the shared accommodation sector should play in the wider urban apartment market.
It is important to note the guidelines were the subject of more than five weeks of public consultation, following the issuing of draft guidelines on 18 December 2017. Neither the Deputy nor her party availed of the opportunity to make a submission as part of this consultation. The guidelines were finalised on 9 March 2018 and were broadly welcomed by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, with the institute's president commenting that the "new guidelines respond to our changing demographics and create four specific types of apartments which will allow for better housing mix: Build to Rent, Shared Living, Owner Occupier and Student Accommodation". Furthermore, he stated the new approach should:
see the sector innovate to respond to the changing market. Two thirds of new households in Ireland over the past twenty years consist of one or two people, yet we are not building enough apartments to cater for this new demographic. At present there are 2.5 times as many one- and two-person households as there are homes to suit them.
While I am satisfied that the guidelines, as issued, are robust, given the relatively new nature of this form of accommodation, my Department will monitor the emerging shared accommodation sector and may issue further additional technical updates, as appropriate, to ensure the appropriate development of this form of accommodation.