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Reach For The Skies

Why hasn't Dublin become a high-rise city?

With a huge deficit of rental properties, is it time to look up?

THERE ARE NOT enough rental properties in Dublin’s city. That much is obvious to anyone who has spent an evening queueing for an apartment share only to find out that there are six people in a two-bed apartment and they want you to pay to sleep in a bunk-bed.

Yet, in contrast to many major cities, Dublin has remained a steadfastly low-rise city.

There is an argument that suggests that going up higher means more density, which means more people, mostly young professionals, in the city centre.

File Photo: The Poolbeg Twin Towers Story. Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

This would then free up suburbs for those with families and commuters and would make the rental market readjust to reflect this.

But does that line of thinking hold up? Should Dublin go up?

Firstly, it’s important to note that as of now, buildings can be around a maximum of 60 metres in Dublin.

For context, that would mean nothing could be built bigger than Liberty Hall.

Liberty Hall

The president of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Robin Mandal told the Irish Independent in May that “some of the three storey buildings should be eight storeys”.

This 2006 plan from the Progressive Democrats was certainly ambitious and would have seen Dublin build a second city in the Docklands complete, it would seem, with a massive domed stadium, cruise ships and skyscrapers.

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Not about the height

However, the logic that height and density are intertwined isn’t always right.

Dave O’Connor is a lecturer in planning at Dublin Institute of Technology. He says that Dublin has actually done a good job in terms of getting people moving back to the heart of the city, but that suburban lessons with height have to be learned.

“You have to understand there’s not a connection with height and density. In Ballymun, they took down the towers and increased density.

“There are huge land banks available in Dublin.”

He, like Mandal, welcomes the Strategic Development Zone initiative, which has been used in Adamstown and was recently approved for the docklands in the capital.

“The best strategy is to to get the SDZs rolling, the plans are in place, they just need the funding to provide sustainable communities.

“There are huge infill opportunities around Dublin, but the problem is finance.

Housing needs are very complex. There is the trend in the US where people want to live closer to the city. The suburbs shouldn’t be a monotonous place, a machine for bringing up kids. That’s why I believe SDZs have a future.

“It’s about quality of design, about healthy neighbourhoods. The planning schemes can provide 20,000 homes straight away. That kind of forward planning, where people can live in attractive neighbourhoods, that’s important.”

Read: A 400-acre ‘suburb’ in Cherrywood is now on the market for €220 million

Column: As a country that thrives on its reputation for craic, we must ensure our cities are a place of enjoyment

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