Dáil Éireann - Volume 639 - 10 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Sustainable Communities.

Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his special incentives to encourage owner/occupier, especially family owner occupier, apartment living in dockland and city centre areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22293/07]

  Deputy John Gormley: My Department is progressing a wide range of policies and measures to ensure that the unprecedented rate of housing and related development in Ireland is planned for in a manner that supports the creation of sustainable communities within a high quality environment. Apartment design in city centre locations, which prioritises a good quality of life for the occupants, can make a significant contribution to achieving sustainable [678] communities and a compact urban environment, as envisaged under the National Spatial Strategy.

To this end, my Department issued planning guidelines on Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for Apartments on 18 September 2007 with the aim of promoting sustainable urban housing by ensuring that the design and layout of new apartments provide satisfactory accommodation for a variety of household types and sizes, including families with children. The guidelines have a strong emphasis on family living and the minimum floor areas and other dimensions reflect this. They pay particular attention to the needs of children — for play space, for quiet study areas and for places to store bikes and buggies.

In addition to better internal layouts, apartment developments need to be located in neighbourhoods which, through good design, provide integrated services and access to public transport, schools, health services, crèches, shops and so on. Together with the suite of other complementary guidance on sustainable residential development, these guidelines should facilitate the creation of sustainable integrated neighbourhoods in city centre and dockland locations.

Under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, it is open to local authorities to earmark up to 20% of houses in new developments for affordable housing purposes. This assists in ensuring that first-time buyers, at whom affordable housing is targeted, have opportunities to acquire homes at affordable prices in developments in city centre areas.

Furthermore, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority carried out an Audit of Social Infrastructure in 2004 which identified a number of key requirements to encourage family living such as schools, larger apartments, play areas and community facilities. These requirements have been addressed and taken into account in DDDA planning schemes.

Question No. 156 answered with Question No. 149.