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Here is why councillors don't think taller buildings will tackle Dublin's housing crisis

The issue will be discussed at a special meeting of Dublin City Council later today.

LATER THIS AFTERNOON Dublin City Council will discuss a controversial proposal on proposed changes to the height of buildings in the city.

The issue is a contentious one that has seen councillors and DCC management pulling in different directions.

If it goes ahead, the changes would increase the height that low-rise residential buildings can be built to, allowing them to be as tall as low-rise office buildings.

shutterstock_226603810 The Dublin skyline Source: Shutterstock/David Soanes

The proposal is included in the draft Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 that is set to be published later this year.

What exactly is the problem?

This issue relates to an increase in the height of buildings that are categorised as ‘low-rise’.

The development plan acknowledges that Dublin is a “low-rise city and considers that it should remain predominantly so”, but also that the council “recognises the merit of taller buildings”.

The way regulation is at the moment, measurements of both storeys and height in metres are used to regulate how tall buildings can be.

The council calculates the average height of a storey as three metres for a residential development and four metres for a commercial development.

Apartment blocks in the inner city can be 19 metres in height (or six storeys) and offices are allowed to be 28 metres (or seven storeys).

Different categories exist for apartment buildings and offices next to rail hubs (which work out at 19 metres and 24 metres respectively), and for buildings in the outer city (13 metres and 16 metres respectively).

The new regulations would change it so that apartments and office blocks can be up to 28 metres in the inner city, up to 24 metres above rail hubs and up to 16 metres in the outer city.

What isn’t a factor in this discussion are buildings that fall outside of the ‘low-rise’ category – like The EXO building in Dublin’s Docklands, that will be the tallest office building in the city when completed.

exo The debate is not focusing on buildings like the planned EXO Source: Savills

And why is this a problem? 

“We’re concerned that the chief executive [Owen Keegan] is looking for fairly tall buildings and we want to bring that down a bit,” says Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe. 

Both the People Before Profit Alliance and Cuffe’s party have made party motions that propose reducing the allowed heights of buildings.

9/3/2012 Green Party marks Government's first year in office Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe Source: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

A more ideal height for buildings in the city would be between 20 and 24 metres, Cuffe explains to TheJournal.ie.

“Tall buildings overshadow and overlook the buildings that are around them and I think that the importance of livability and decent communities is crucial,” he says. 

 We are not convinced that building higher and higher is the way forward for the city. 

This is a sentiment shared by People Before Profit councillor Hazel De Nortúin. 

“The big comparison that has been used is with the It is the Georgian houses which usually have the three stories. What this would mean is basically two Georgian houses which go on top of each other,” she says.

De Nortúin explains that the issue has been raised with a number of residents groups, with particular concerns from people in the Liberties and Dublin 8, areas where there is a demand for housing. 

“What people are actually asking about is where does it start and where does it end?,” she says, “You give one step to the developers and they take 10.”

Sinn Féin’s DCC councillors will be meeting today ahead of today’s discussion on the draft development document.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, councillor Greg Kelly says that the standard of whatever is being built is a bigger concern than the height of the buildings, and that he would be consulting with his colleagues in areas that are more heavily impacted (Kelly’s is a councillor in the Ballyfermot-Drimnagh ward) before deciding his position on the issue.

Read: Planning approval given for Dublin’s tallest office building

Also: Nama project set to create almost 1,000 student beds in the heart of Dublin

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