New ban on co-living ordered

A de facto ban on new co-living developments has been issued by Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD, with concerns growing over the number of such developments in the housing system.

The decision was made by Minister O’Brien following the submission of a report by the Planning Division within his Department of Housing, Local Government on the topic of co-living. Upon announcement of the de facto ban, O’Brien said that the decision was the correct one due to the number of co-living planning applications and permissions to date being “comparatively high in the international context”.

Some of the concerns raised with the report include the view that the developments had become less niche and had begun to play a greater role in the country’s housing provision, with many potential sites outside of Dublin city centre. To date, a total of 14 planning applications for shared accommodation schemes, all located in County Dublin, with over 2,100 bed spaces have been made.

In accordance with the report’s findings, the Minister issued the de facto ban by amending the 2018 Planning Guidelines to restrict all future commercial co-living development in Ireland. The ban will only be applied to future developments as amendments to planning guidelines cannot be applied retroactively.

“I believe the number of applications and permissions to date are comparatively high in the international context,” O’Brien said. “Given the unprecedented nature of these developments, I have concerns that the scale of the developments is moving away from the niche quantity of units the concept originally aimed for to a significantly larger role in the housing system.

“I also believe the location of a substantial number of the potential co-living sites is not in keeping with the high-density urban centres originally envisaged wand that inappropriate locations away rom the core city centre have undermined the concept.”

The Department have said that an updated guidance document on the topic is now being finalised. Provisions that allowed for co-living developments were introduced by then Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy TD in 2018 when he published the document Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines for Planning Authorities. Murphy, however, has said that O’Brien was “of the view there are enough developments in the system to meet anticipated demand and so he is right to act” and that “co-living was only ever intended to play a limited and niche role in the housing market”.

Pressure had mounted on O’Brien to act in some way over the co-living issue after Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD had tabled a Private Member’s Bill that aimed to remove the law which allows minister to alter planning laws without a vote from the Oireachtas and remove from building standards the co-living and built-to-rent guidelines, thus banning such developments.

“All departments should be built to one standard,” Ó Broin said. “No one deserves to live in a gentrified co-working space, 12 metres of personal living spaces. If we want people to rent long-term. We need to make sure people have the same standard as people who buy apartments.”

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