Statement from Minister O’Brien on co-living

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD has received a report on co-living from officials in his Department which has been published  today (23 November, 2020).

Upon consideration of the report and associated material Minister O’Brien has decided to amend the 2018 Planning Guidelines to seek to restrict all future commercial co-living development in Ireland.

This will require an updated guidance document that includes a Specific Planning Policy Requirement (SPPR) and guidance in respect of local authority level City or County Development Plan processes. This document is currently being finalised.

Commenting Minister O’Brien has said, “I believe this is the correct decision and it is one I have come to following careful consideration.

“I believe the number of applications and permissions to date are comparatively high in the international context. 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 and that inappropriate locations away from the core city centre have undermined the concept.

“There is also a serious risk that co-living permissions will add to upward pressure on land prices. By allowing permissions to extract higher units of beds in a single development and combined with the higher than anticipated number of applications this has the potential to have negative repercussions for other development types such as affordable purchase or cost rental that the Programme for Government is committed to promoting.

Minister O’Brien acknowledged that any amendments to the planning guidelines could not be applied retrospectively but said “given the new nature of co-living developments it is appropriate that we draw lessons from the existing permissions once they are built out in keeping with the review originally attached the idea in 2018. This should be complemented by the Department’s on-going work on Housings Demand and Needs assessment that will ascertain tenure type requirements on a granular basis in each Local Authority. This should be used to inform any future decisions on these types of developments.”

He reiterated the Government’s commitment to ‘Housing for All’ saying, “Our focus is on delivering social homes, 12,750 next year with a shift towards direct build. We will roll out a new affordable purchases scheme to support home ownership and a cost rental model as well as utilising a fully operational Land Development Agency. These are the core policy goals of the government that I am directing this department towards achieving,” he concluded.