Latest: Housing Minister described as 'deluded' over 'offensive' shared accommodation plans

Update 3.49pm: Labour Housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan has raised concerns for the Housing Minister's plans to introduce shared accommodation for young professionals.

"I am concerned that a plan to roll out a shared living type situation for young professionals would lead to lowered standards of accommodation," she said.

She called for more detail on how the arrangement would work and asked for clarity as to whether it would be akin to bedsits or digs.

Deputy O'Sullivan also said the arrangement would only suit a small number of people.

“The London example cited by the Minister, on which it seems this plan is based, is also not cheap, with the average en-suite room costing around €280 per week, or just over €1,000 a month.

“The majority of those in the target age-group are likely to be in entry-level jobs on relatively low pay, and would struggle to afford such prices," she said.

She further raised concern on the issue of how many people will be living in the shared space, as Minister Eoghan Murphy said this would be up to the builder.

However, Deputy O'Sullivan said she was "encouraged" by the proposal to remove the need for a mandatory parking space at apartment buildings as a means of encouraging the use of public transport.

“I welcome the recognition that a one-size fits all approach to housing is not a solution, but we also can’t see a situation where there’s a race to the bottom in living standards," she said.

“The Minister should also get on with properly regulating short-term holiday lettings or new rental accommodation, particularly in Dublin where the need is greatest, will simply get used up for this more lucrative market," Deputy O'Sullivan added.

Her criticisms were compounded by comments from the Workers Party who described the suggestions as "offensive".

North Inner Dublin City Councillor Éilis Ryan said the shared living arrangement would mean young adults could end up living with dozens of other people and this would "not be anybody's definition of a home".

"It is offensive to suggest that young people should no longer assume they have the right to a secure home. And this is what Minister Murphy is effectively doing," she said.

Cllr Ryan said the arrangement would also be too expensive.

"Minister Murphy pointed to 'the collective' in London as an example to be replicated. But rents at 'the collective' start at over €900 a month, for less space, autonomy and rights than traditional rental accommodation.

"Even by London's standards, this is far from affordable. So why is the Minister telling us it will be affordable here?" she said.

The councillor accused the Government of doing everything it can to avoid building public housing.

"This 'co-living' proposal is transparently driven by the interests of developers. Who else other than a developer benefits from squeezing more adults into the one living space?

"It is laughable that the Minister expects us to believe that such ridiculous arrangements are more likely to provide decent homes for young people than the obvious solution - building public housing," Cllr Ryan added.

Earlier: High rise apartment blocks could be on the way as the Government has proposed scrapping height restrictions for city buildings.

They are also getting rid of the mandatory requirement to have car parking spaces in apartment buildings.

They plan to develop communal housing blocks for young professionals, in a similar set up to student accommodation.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will also seek to bring down the cost of building apartments, by reducing the requirement for parking spaces in new builds.

Announcing the proposal, he insisted that people do not need the expense of a car that is “lying idle” in cities where there is sufficient public transport on offer.

Mr Murphy said: "The onus will be on the developer to prove why there should be car-parking places provided in apartment buildings.

“Basically we are going to remove the requirement that there should be any parking spaces at all.

“I have also announced my intention to remove the numerical height when it comes to restrictions for building apartments.

“This is to make sure that we have viable high density developments - particularly in our city centre cores.”

Speaking this morning, Minister Eoghan Murphy said the height restriction on apartment blocks in place in cities around the country “does not make sense” – however he warned there will be no free-for-all for high rise developments, should the restrictions be eased.

Minister Murphy called for more studio and one-bed apartments as well as specialist developments for older people and down-sizers.

He said he is also considering communal living apartment blocks – similar to those used for student accommodation – for young professionals.

“We have to free ourselves from the mindset that everyone will live in a three-bedroom house at every stage of their lives,” he told the conference.


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