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Height controls axed as Ireland looks to curb urban sprawl

Words: Roger Milne
Building Upwards iStock

Restrictions on maximum building heights in Ireland’s towns and cities have been lifted.

Housing and local government minister Eoghan Murphy has published new guidelines that remove height caps on new buildings in a move aimed at preventing urban sprawl. The measures were subject to public consultation.

Murphy declared: “We need to shift away from the ‘business as usual’ development patterns and create a more adaptive and forward-looking vision. Our cities and our towns must grow upwards, not just outwards, if we are to meet the many challenges ahead.

“Our classic development models for our city and town cores has tended to be dominated by employment and retail uses, surrounded by extensive and constantly expanding low-rise suburban residential areas. This is completely unsustainable.”

He added: “We have arbitrary height caps on apartment buildings in our cities that don’t make any sense and don’t facilitate good planning and design. This is as much about increasing the shoulder height of buildings in our town and city cores, as well as allowing for taller buildings across our skyline, that will add to the merit and functionality of our urban cores as places to live.

“This is an opportunity for our cities and our towns to be developed differently. Our urban centres could have much better use of land facilitating well-located and taller buildings, meeting the highest architectural and planning standards.”

Professionals have given a cautious welcome to the new regime. The Irish Planning Institute has noted that the guidelines appear to ensure that the “legislative principles underpinning the strategic development zone (SDZ) approach are protected from subsequent case-by-case-led change”.

Image credit | iStock