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Kelly says apartment sizes aren't "shoebox living"

The plans have been criticised, but Kelly is steadfast.

Image: Shutterstock/Bluerain

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER ALAN Kelly has defended plans to allow studio apartments of just 40 square metres.

Kelly’s department published new guidelines yesterday which will make apartment sizes consistent across local authorities.

While the floor space of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments will remain the same, changes have been made in a number of other areas to facilitate an increase in housing supply.

The minimum size of a one-bedroom apartment will be set at 45 square metres and studio apartments will be a minimum of 40 square metres.

The move has been met with scepticism by the Irish Planning Institute and DIT Housing lecturer Lorcan Sirr, who told Newstalk that the plan would do little to ensure that cities would be attractive to young people.

Sirr said that Kelly would be “better served” by ensuring that the planning and fire safety rules were adhered to.

He told listeners that a 40 square metre studio apartment was about the size of a sitting room, hall and stairs in a semi-detached home.

He said that the plans make no economic sense, will not attract builders and are a win for developers.

If you’re trying to create a sustainable city where people live and they don’t all want cars and they want to walk around the place and live near their work, you need to create apartments that people want to live in for a long time. We have enough small apartments in Dublin and Cork.

However, Kelly defended himself. In a terse interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said that the move was designed to normalise the planning process in the country.

“The building that is going on is all office blocks because building apartments is not viable.

“If someone was going to build apartments right now, it would be a loss-making exercise.

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“I don’t accept some of the commentary that these apartments are “shoeboxes”. I wouldn’t go back to that.”

Kelly said that despite his plan allowing for apartments just two square metres bigger than those allowed under Fianna Fáil, he sees the guidelines as different.

“To be fair, you have to look at the guidelines in a fuller context.

The 2007 guidelines are favourable with other European cities, so I believe that these apartments are absolutely adequate and affordable.

“There’s no point in having standards in place if nobody is going to build them.”

Read: The way that apartments are built in Ireland is changing

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