Minister Murphy issues Guidelines on Urban Development and Building Heights for Local Authorities 

Mr Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has today (07 December) issued Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines for Planning Authorities under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act (2000), as amended.

Draft Guidelines were on display from the 9th August until 24th September (inclusive), as part of a public consultation process, along with accompanying environmental reports. Following the consultation phase the many submissions which were received were considered and the finalised Guidelines take account of them, where appropriate.

These Guidelines set out new and updated national planning policy on building heights in relation to urban areas, elaborating on the strategic policy framework set out in Project Ireland 2040 and the National Planning Framework, and are part of a suite of integrated measures and policy shifts to break the current patterns and development trends for our cities and towns and create more compact and integrated communities.

These Guidelines will:

(i) Elaborate on key policies outlined in the National Planning Framework, in particular National Policy Objective 13, which identifies building height as an important measure for urban areas to deliver and achieve compact growth

(i) Outline wider and strategic policy considerations and a performance criteria that planning authorities should apply alongside their statutory development plans in assessing proposals for taller buildings; and

(i) Support the accommodation of anticipated population growth and their development needs, whether for housing, employment or other purposes, by building up and consolidating the development of our existing urban areas

In welcoming these new Guidelines, the Minister noted how: “We need to shift away from the “business as usual” development patterns and create a more adaptive and forward-looking vision. Our cities and our towns must grow upwards, not just outwards, if we are to meet the many challenges ahead. Our classic development models for our city and town cores has tended to be dominated by employment and retail uses, surrounded by extensive and constantly expanding low-rise suburban residential areas. This is completely unsustainable”.

The Minister added: “We have arbitrary height caps on apartment buildings in our cities that don’t make any sense and don’t facilitate good planning and design. This is as much about increasing the shoulder height of buildings in our town and city cores, as well as allowing for taller buildings across our skyline, that will add to the merit and functionality of our urban cores as places to live. This is an opportunity for our cities and our towns to be developed differently. Our urban centres could have much better use of land facilitating well located and taller buildings, meeting the highest architectural and planning standards.”

“Along with the Apartment Guidelines published earlier this year, the height caps represent the final reforms to our planning guidelines for apartment development, which continues to increase at pace.”

A copy of the Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines for Planning Authorities and associated environmental reports can be downloaded from the Department website here