Controversial Build-to-Rent planning rules to be axed

The planning rules allowing ‘build-to-rent’ apartments will be abolished. The rules which were introduced by the then Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy in 2018, mean that apartments which are owned by institutional investors and are developed specifically for the rental market do not have to comply with the minimum size standards required in apartments which are for sale. There are less stringent storage requirements and more apartments are permitted per  floor.

The Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien is expected to issue an amendment to the existing guidelines, removing the reduced standards. The developments which are already in planning will be allowed to continue under the existing regime.

The move comes from the pressures on the Government to provide more social and affordable homes, as the number of homeless people in Ireland are hitting record highs.

Emergency electricity plant receives planning permission

An Bord Pleanála has approved Government plans for a 210 MW temporary emergency electricity generating plant, comprising of six 35 MW gas turbines units. Due to the amid fears over the state supply, the application was prioritised and ‘fast tracked’.

The planning documents stated that the emergency power plant is designated to start quickly and will run when the electricity demand is high and generation capacity from other, currently available sources is insufficient and at risk of not meeting demand.

The Environmental Impact Assessment lodged with the planning application noted that the plant will be in place for up to 5 years from early 2023 and will operate for up to 500 hours a year, typically 4 hours per days when called to operate, on natural gas only.

New Planning Permission Exemptions for Solar Panels

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has signed into law revised planning exemptions for the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of houses and certain non-domestic buildings. The exemptions are aimed at increasing Ireland’s generation of solar energy and combating climate change. The changes take immediate effect.

Houses, regardless of location, may now install unlimited solar panels on their rooftops without any requirement for planning permission, subject to certain conditions. Solar installations will be able to cover the entire roof of a house, as the previous limits of 12sqm/50% of roof are removed. Exemptions also apply to rooftops of industrial buildings, business premises, community and education buildings, places of worship, health buildings, libraries, certain public utility sites and farms.

Certain restrictions continue to apply, including for developments which are near certain aviation sites, protected structures and Architectural Conservation Areas. Additionally, in the 43 designated Solar Safeguarding Zones, a rooftop limit remains. Solar Safeguarding Zones are areas where rooftop limitations on solar panel installations apply, to mitigate the potential impact of glint and glare near airports, aerodromes, and other sites with helipads like hospitals. The existing exemption of 50 square metres or less for the entire development has been increased to a rooftop limit of 300 square metres.

Exemptions have been introduced for the first time for the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of apartments; educational building/ health centre or hospital/ recreational or sports facility/ place of worship/ community facility or centre/ library/ certain public utility sites, subject to conditions and limitations and the rooftop area limit in solar safeguarding zones where applicable

free-standing solar panel installations for houses are exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission subject to a 25 square metre area limit and conditions requiring a certain amount of private open space to be maintained for the use of occupants. The exempted area for all other categories except apartments is increased to 75 square metres. In addition, wall mounted solar installations of 75 square metres are exempted for industrial and agricultural.

Residential Zoned Land Tax

The Government’s Housing For All – A New Housing Plan for Ireland proposed a new tax to activate vacant land for residential purposes as a part of the Pathway to Increasing New Housing Supply. The Residential Zoned Land Tax was introduced in the Finance Act 2021. Each Local Authority has published draft maps identifying lands which are subject to the tax. These are now open for consultation until the 1st of January 2023.

A supplemental map will be published on 1st of May 2023, identifying additional land considered to be in scope as a result of a change of zoning, servicing or where the local authority becomes aware of the fact that land, which didn’t appear on the draft map, may meet the criteria for being in scope, such as where this has been identified during submissions. The supplemental map will also be on public display and open to submissions which may challenge the inclusion of additional land on the map.

Land appearing on both the draft and supplemental maps, as amended to take into account the outcome of submissions made in respect of the land on these maps, will be included on the final map of land in scope for the tax in the local authority area to be published on 1st of December 2023. This land will be subject to the tax unless it is exempt as a residential property.

The objective of the tax is to activate land that is serviced and zoned for residential use or mixed use, including residential use, in order to increase housing supply and to ensure regeneration of vacant and idle lands in urban locations. These locations have been identified within statutory land use plans as being appropriate locations for housing and they have benefitted from investment in the key services to support the delivery of housing. The tax will be calculated at 3% of the market value and payable from 2024.

Open consultations of Statutory Plans

Maynooth and Environs Joint Local Area Plan 2024-2030 Pre-Draft Public Consultation

Kildare County Council and Meath County Council are commencing the preparation of a joint Local Area Plan (LAP) for Maynooth and its environs.  For this purpose, a joint consultation portal specifically for the Maynooth Local Area Plan process has been created by Kildare County Council and Meath County Council to ensure all submissions and reports from both County Council’s can be viewed in the same space.

The portal can be reached at where you can view the Issues paper and Make your submission.