Carol Spollen on Ireland's 2018 Apartment Design Standards. -

By Carol Spollen

3 mins read in Insight

Carol Spollen on Ireland’s 2018 Apartment Design Standards.

In December 2017 the Irish Department of Housing issued draft amendments to the 2015 Apartment Design Guidelines.

The main changes since the 2015 document are listed below, with the significant changes between the December 2017 draft document and the recently published document   highlighed and underlined.


  • Up to 50% 1 Bed or Studio units (where no more than 20-25% of the total proposed developments are studios).
  • No minimum requirement for 3-bed or more bedroom units (statutory development plans may specify a different mix than above but only further to an evidence based Housing Need & Demand Assessment that has been agreed on an area basis and incorporated into the relevant development plan).
  • Studio units now allowed in all developments.
  • Minimum area of Studios units reduced from 40 sq m to 37 sq m
  • A variation of up to 5% can now be applied to the minimum room areas & widths subject to overall compliance with the requirement overall apartment floor area.
  • Introduction of a 3 person 2 bed unit of a minimum area of 63 sq m suitable to meet social housing needs or as a variation in housing type – no more than 10% of total number of units in a development this size
  • Dual aspect reduced from 50% to 33% on sites near to the city or town centres, close to quality public transport or in SDZ areas.
  • Dual aspect remains at 50% on greenfield or standalone brownfield regeneration sites.
  • Where less than 50% dual aspect units are provided the minimum ceiling height should be 2.7m generally with 3.0m on the ground floor.
  • 8 units per stair/lift increased to 12 units per stair / lift.
  • Car space requirement wholly eliminated (‘Car free’) or substantially reduced in larger scale and high density developments in central locations or adjacent to high employment areas. (visitor, service and drop off parking required).
  • Car space requirement may be reduced in suburban / urban locations served by public transport or close to town centres.
  • The requirement of 1 cycle space per unit remains with a   new requirement for visitor cycle parking of 1 space / 2 units and preferably lockers for cyclists should also be provided.


BTR schemes now qualify for assessment by planning authorities where the following may be applied (subject to BTR requirements achieved):

  • No restriction on dwelling mix.
  • Flexibility on the minimum storage and private amenity requirements subject to the provision of compensatory communal support facilities.
  • Default of   minimal or significantly reduced   car parking provision on the basis of BTR schemes being centrally located and or in the proximity of public transport networks.
  • The requirement that the majority of all apartments in a proposed scheme exceed the minimum floor area standards by a minimum of 10% shall not apply to BTR schemes.
  • The requirement for a maximum of 12 apartments per floor per core shall not apply to BTR schemes.
  • While the Part V requirements still apply to BTR developments there is now greater flexibility in how the requirements are met through a combination of options such as the transfer of lands, build & transfer up to 10% of units, transfer of housing units on any other land in the functional area of the development plan or a combination of these options.


  • Shared accommodation schemes only appropriate in particular locations where responding to an identified urban housing need.
  • Residential Units comprising of 2-6 Bedrooms of single or double occupancy (Up to 8 persons per unit).
  • Shared accommodation minimum room sizes now defined (Single Room incl. Ensuite – 12m2; Double incl. Ensuite 18m2)
  • Shared accommodation will not normally by subject to Part V requirements.
  • Shared accommodation schemes only appropriate in particular locations where responding to an identified urban housing need.
  • Shared accommodation may be a sub-component of a BTR scheme.


  • Planning applications for apartment development shall now include a building lifecycle report which in turn includes an assessment of long term running and maintenance costs as they would apply on a per residential unit basis at the time of application, as well as demonstrating what measures have been specifically considered by the proposer to effectively manage and reduce costs for the benefit of residents.

For more information connect with   David Petherbridge   and   Carol Spollen.

Always sensitive to local context, Carol helps clients to develop projects that achieve commercial success without compromising community well-being. Her long-range design thinking considers the entire project life-cycle. This benefits every aspect of development from streamlining of the planning process, to construction efficiency, and beyond as projects increasingly contribute to their local environments over time.

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