Seanad debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Housing Policy

10:30 am

Photo of Anne RabbitteAnne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank Senator O'Reilly for raising this matter. I am answering on behalf of the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Peter Burke. The compact growth of cities and towns of all sizes to create more attractive places in which people can live and work is a key objective of the national planning framework, NPF. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is in the process of developing sustainable and compact settlement guidelines, SCSGs, for planning authorities under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act. The SCSGs will supersede current section 28 ministerial guidelines for planning authorities on sustainable residential development in urban areas and the sustainable residential development guidelines last issued in 2009. The SCSGs will also supplement other relevant guidelines such as the sustainable urban housing design standards for new apartment guidelines for planning authorities of 2020, as well as the urban development and building heights guidelines for planning authorities of 2018. A working group was convened in June 2022 to work through key issues. The working group included representation from the construction industry, private built environment practitioners, professional bodies and the public sector. The group, via a series of workshops in June, August and September 2022 discussed the interrelated issues of density, viability, land use, transportation, place-making and quality design. This included general discussion in regard to housing standards and the potential for new and more compact housing typologies seen in other countries at suitable locations in Ireland. Following completion, the draft guidelines will be placed on display for a focused period of public consultation. This is targeted for quarter 4 of 2022. All interested parties will have an opportunity to make submissions on the guidelines at that stage. Submissions made during the public consultation period will be reviewed and where appropriate and necessary, amendments will be made to the published draft. The guidelines will then be submitted for approval and publication by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Once published planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála will be required to have regard to the guidelines in carrying out their functions.

That is the Minister's response but if I could, in the allotted time, as Minister of State with responsibility for disability, I would like a moment to build on that. When we talk about the guidelines I hope that people from the disability community would also participate in the consultation. It is important to discuss universal design and accessibility. When we talk about the various models and standardisation of the houses, within that we should also have the standardisation of houses that would be suitable for persons with disabilities and their various needs to be incorporated. They would be part of the overall plan for living within their communities. The motto of people with disabilities, “nothing about us without us”, should also pertain to the development of how we look at developing our Housing for All strategy to ensure everybody in the community has a right to access housing.


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