I have been clear in my intention to review the provisions on Shared Accommodation or “Co-living” as set out in section 5.0 of Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines for Planning Authorities, which were published by my Department in 2018. Paragraph 5.24 of the guidance committed the Department to monitor the emerging shared accommodation sector, with a view to issuing further technical updates of the Sustainable Urban Housing guidelines document with regard to co-living, given the relatively new nature of this form of accommodation.
Accordingly, my Departmental officials have completed a report on co-living development, which I have carefully considered, having regard to the broader context. Further to review of the report, my preferred approach is to update the 2018 Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments, Guidelines for Planning Authorities , to restrict future commercial co-living development with a Specific Planning Policy Requirement (SPPR) for a presumption against grant of permissions for Co-Living/Shared accommodation. I have now issued a circular advising local authorities, An Bord Pleanála and the Office of the Planning Regulator (23/11/20) advising them of this, noting in particular that given:-
- the scale and location of co-living developments permitted and proposed to date;
- the need for a local authority-led evidence-based approach, to guide any further provision of this form of accommodation, which may be informed by the Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) process, which is currently being developed;
- potential impact on land values if the number of proposals were to continue to increase in the current housing market conditions; and,
- Government policy and priorities as set out in the new Programme for Government “Our Shared Future”, with a strong emphasis on expanded social and affordable rented housing sectors;
I am of the view that there is now a sufficient quantum of co-living units either permitted or subject to consideration within the planning system, to demonstrate and prove the co-living concept, without impacting housing provision generally.
My officials are now preparing a technical update of the Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments, Guidelines for Planning Authorities 2018, document, solely in relation to the ‘Shared Accommodation’ (Co-living) aspects of the guidance. This process will also include requisite environmental considerations. When this process is complete, the updated document will be issued as Ministerial guidance under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) and will replace the previous 2018 apartment guidelines document.
Planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála are required to have regard to ministerial guidelines in the course of carrying out their functions, and are required to apply certain provisions of the guidelines, that may be stated as Specific Planning Policy Requirements. The report prepared by my officials is currently available on the Department’s website at: www.housing.gov.ie and when complete, the updated apartment guidelines document will be issued to all planning authorities and to An Bord Pleanála.