The Urban Development and Building Height Guidelines for Planning Authorities were published in December 2018. The guidelines support the implementation of the strategic goals of increased housing delivery, sustainable development and compact growth as outlined in the National Planning Framework.

The guidelines prevent planning authorities from imposing maximum height limits on new development. The objective is to achieve increased residential densities by allowing higher buildings, particularly in built-up urban and suburban locations. It includes performance criteria that planning authorities must consider, alongside their statutory development plans, in assessing proposals for taller buildings. In urban areas that are well serviced by public transport links and considered appropriate for increased building heights, these performance criteria shall address issues such as appropriate mix of uses, the existing built environment, environmental impacts, public realm treatment and urban design.

Planning authorities will also be obliged to identify central and/or accessible locations for development that are suitable for increased building height, particularly areas in excess of 2 hectares. These locations will be deemed appropriate for medium density residential development supporting in excess of 45 units per hectare. In determining the suitability of these sites, the assessment must address:

  • Proximity to high quality public transport connectivity;
  • The site’s potential to contribute to the development of new homes, economic growth and regeneration in accordance with compact growth principles;
  • The resilience of the site in terms of public access and egress perspectives;
  • Ecological and environmental sensitivities of the location; and
  • The visual, functional, environmental and cumulative impacts of increased building height.

Development management criteria are also contained within the plan to address appropriate site, development, environmental and design considerations. Compliance with these requirements will need to be demonstrated by applicants proposing development that increases building heights in that location.

It should be noted that compliance with any other relevant statutory plans will also be required, including:

  • Local authority development plans and local area plans;
  • Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments (2018);
  • Best practice guidelines Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities (2007);
  • Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2009);
  • Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets or ‘DMURS’ (2013);
  • Retail Design Manual (2012); and
  • Urban Design Manual (2009).