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Eamonn Farrell
Housing Crisis

Bedsits of the future or part of the solution?: Minister says co-living flats are just another option for people

Plans to build a block of 208 studio dwellings which would see dozens of people sharing one kitchen have been criticised.

CO-LIVING IS ANOTHER choice for people, according to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. 

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning, the minister insisted that co-living is part of the solution to solving the housing crisis. 

The minister introduced changes to the minimum-apartment-size guidelines to allow for co-living developments. The developments allow occupants have their own room, en-suite and shower, but they will share living and kitchen spaces.

These type of spaces already exists in cities such as London and Germany.

It’s understood the regulations were modelled on The Collective Old Oak shared apartments in London, which is the world’s largest co-living building with a community of over 500.

Dun Laoghaire development 

However, there have been calls to rewrite the design standards for new apartments on foot of a developer’s plans to build a block of 208 studio dwellings which would see dozens of people sharing one kitchen.

The proposed Dublin development would be one of the first “co-living” buildings that became permissible under design standard guidelines for new apartments that were introduced in March 2018.

The Bartra Capital Property Group has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to build a five-floor building on Eblana Avenue in Dun Laoghaire.

If approved the plans would see the demolition of all existing buildings on the 2,629 square metre site and the construction of a 6,501 square metre building with 208 “single occupancy bedspaces”. However, sources within government have questioned whether such a development would get the green light. 

Speaking today, Murphy said he could not comment on individual planning applications, but added that “it is not the intention of co-living” to have large numbers of people sharing one kitchen or bathroom. 

He said co-living is designed for young, working professionals who are willing to make “certain sacrifices around space so they can live closer to work, at a more affordable rent”, he said. 

He added that co-living is “another choice for people” stating that it will allow people to  “pay a little less” and as a result they will “have more money” in their pocket.

How much?

However, the minister gave no indication that the regulations will set a price that can be charged per square metre by the developer when they do rent out the apartments. 

“The challenge we face at the moment, as supply is increasing, is becoming more of a question of not increasing supply, which is happening now quite dramatically, but what we’re building and where,” he said.

“It becomes more of a planning issue. So as we increase supply, we have to make sure we’re building the right types of homes.

“That means student accommodation, it also means accommodation for the elderly. It also means places to rent,” added the minister. 

SO what we’re doing with co-living is bringing around another option, another choice for people, if they choose to go for it.

“In the guidelines that we have published, it’s about bringing forward apartments with some co-living space as well,” he said.

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys has hit out against the increasing number of shared or co-living developments, stating that it a removing real homes from Dublin.

‘Bedsits of the future’

“The shocking development proposed in Dun Laoghaire is an example of how real homes are being lost…These will be the bedsits of the future,” he said. 

“Fine Gael has torn up the rule book in favour of speculators and developers. The Minister for Housing was this morning defending his choices, but it is future generations who will pay the price,” he added. 

Sinn Féin also criticised the government’s housing policies this week, and slammed Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for voting against the party’s Bill that would have allowed the people to vote on enshrining the right To housing in the Constitution.

Today, the minister defended his Rebuilding Ireland plan, stating that it is working. He cited Central Statistics Office figures, released yesterday, which showed there has been a 23% increase in home completions in the first quarter of this year.

There were 4,275 new dwelling completions in quarter one of this year, compared with 3,470 completions in quarter one of 2018, an increase of 23.2%. 

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