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), to respond to the changing housing needs in light of demographics and the dynamics in the urban employment market. An extensive public consultation process took place prior to finalisation of the guidelines, during which 63 submissions were made to my Department. My Department also hosted a consultative workshop prior to finalisation of the guidelines.
The guidelines are available on my Department’s website. Circular Letters FPS 02-2017 and FPS 03-2018 to local authorities in relation to the publication and implementation of the draft and final guidelines respectively and these are also available on my Department's website at: www.housing.gov.ie.
Chapter 5 of the guidelines addresses the new and emerging 'build to rent' (BTR) and 'shared accommodation' (or 'co-living') sectors and sets out a number of key distinct characteristics of each type of accommodation and the planning requirements for both. Specific Planning Policy Requirements (SPPR) are set out in relation to BTR (SPPR 8) and Shared Accommodation (SPPR 9) and specific technical specifications are set out in Appendix 1 to the guidelines.
BTR projects are usually a single entity investment for long term rental undertaking, comprising individual residential units within the development that are not sold off separately for private ownership and/or subsequent sub-letting individually, which is a key difference from the traditional housing development model. The guidelines provide for planning permission for specific BTR developments to be sought from a planning authority. Where such a planning permission is sought the proposed development must also include the provision of dedicated amenities and facilities specifically for residents in terms of communal recreational space, work spaces and cooking/dining facilities as well as a range of other support services such as laundry facilities, concierge and management, or repair and maintenance. BTR projects are subject to Part V obligations and developers must engage with the planning authorities to mutually agree on the best way to discharge this obligation.
Shared Accommodation projects are professionally managed rental accommodation arranged around individual rooms, rather than apartment units, within an overall development that includes access to shared or communal facilities and amenities dedicated for use by residents only. This distinct accommodation type can be compatible with the dynamics in the urban employment market – for example, their use by new employees arriving in urban areas and seeking short term accommodation during an establishment or local acclimatisation period that may be longer than a few weeks. Shared Accommodation may also be used innovatively to provide accommodation within protected structures in order to ensure their long term rehabilitation and to address sensitive architectural constraints of protected building.
Due to the distinct nature and features of Shared Accommodation type development, it is only appropriate where responding to an identified urban housing need at particular locations. In this regard the obligation is on the proposer of a shared accommodation scheme to demonstrate to the planning authority that their proposal is based on accommodation need and to provide a satisfactory evidential base accordingly.
Shared accommodation units are not normally subject to Part V requirements because such developments would not be suitable for social housing given that they are not provided as individual self-contained residential units.
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 this emerging sector and may issue further additional technical updates to this document as appropriate.