Written Answers. - Planning Issues.

Conor Lenihan

Ceist:

251 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government if he will consider introducing guidelines to govern the practice and granting of infill housing planning permissions to ensure that there is uniformity of interpretation as between the various local authorities within Dublin as well as elsewhere. [18996/03]

Conor Lenihan

Ceist:

252 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are different requirements, as between local authorities in Dublin, with regard to the rules governing the granting of planning permission for infill housing; and if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that in one instance a local authority requires a 2.4 metre distance between an infill house and an adjacent house whereas this is not a requirement in other local authorities. [18997/03]

Conor Lenihan

Ceist:

253 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government his views on whether infill housing is essential to the solution of housing problems as well as to producing a greater mix of housing types in suburban locations. [18998/03]

Conor Lenihan

Ceist:

254 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government if his Department has conducted an audit of the number of infill planning permissions granted by the local authorities over the past five years; and the statistical breakdown of the number of such permissions granted by way of comparison as between the various local authorities. [18999/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 to 254, inclusive, together.

The guidelines for planning authorities on residential density, issued by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in September 1999, address the issue of infill residential development in inner suburban areas. The guidelines indicate that the provision of additional dwellings within inner suburban areas of towns and cities, proximate to existing or due to be improved public transport corridors has the potential for revitalising areas by utilising the capacity of existing social and physical infrastructure. This can be done by way of infill or through the sub-division of existing dwellings.

In relation to infill development, the guidelines stress that in residential areas whose character is established by their density or architectural form, a balance has to be struck between the reasonable protection of the amenities and privacy of adjoining dwellings, the protection of established character and the need to provide residential infill. The design approach should be based on a recognition of the need to protect the amenities of directly adjoining neighbours and the general character of the area and its amenities, i.e. views, architectural quality, civic design, etc. The exact requirements to apply in each area is a matter for the relevant planning authority. There is no proposal at present to issue further guidelines to planning authorities concerning the granting of infill planning permissions for houses.
In relation to the contribution of infill development to housing supply, the Government's strategy has been to increase housing supply to meet demand and to improve affordability, particularly for first time purchasers. There is clear evidence that this strategy is proving effective. Total new housing output in 2002 was 57,695 units, an increase of 9.7% on 2001 and the eighth consecutive year of record housing output. The effects of this increased output are being reflected in moderating house price trends. Average year on year house price increases have been reduced from a peak of around 40% per annum in 1998 to more moderate levels currently. Measures which have succeeded in boosting housing supply include the Government's investment in infrastructure and the increased residential densities now being achieved in line with the residential guidelines produced by my Department. While my Department does not compile statistics on infill development, information available to it suggests that some 20% of current housing completions nationally are in the form of apartment development.
The Government is committed to ensuring that demand for housing is met in a sustainable manner and will continue to monitor and review housing developments and policies as necessary to ensure an appropriate mix of housing types.