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The  Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has published as Ministerial Guidelines under Section 28 of the Act the Sustainable Residential Development and Compact Settlements Guidelines for Planning Authorities.  They replace the  Ministerial  the Sustainable Residential Developments in Urban Areas-Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2009).

Of course, these Guidelines are not just “for Planning Authorities” but become an important step in for all parties trying to eek viable residential developments out of the clutches of the Irish Planning System.

The outgoing guidelines had a pervasive impact on the system being incorporated into all Development Plans across the country.  In time the new version will be highly influential.

The preamble to the Guidelines highlight the dramatic change in policy context in the intervening years, including The National Planning Framework (2018), Housing for All (2021),  CAP23, National Policy on Architecture 2022 , National Sustainable Mobility Policy (2022) and not forgetting Design Manual for  Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) (2019) and Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New  Apartments, Guidelines for  Planning Authorities (2023)

On a first view, the new documents appears as a version-upgrade rather than a radical overhaul.  However, there are bold intentions should planners grasp hold of them.  Its aim for example to  “promote a move away  from segregated land use areas (residential, commercial and employment) that have reinforced unsustainable travel in favour of mixed-use neighbourhoods” could potentially be very profound and would entail a much more fundamental review of current planning practice than most commentators are suggesting. The  references to master-planning, urban design and SDZ’s are also timely for the post-SHD world.

Following the Density Recommendations in Chapter 3, The Development Standards Chapter (5) will have practical impacts on design layouts, through the application of 4 SPPR’s (specific planning policy requirements):

  • SPPR 1 – Separation Distances (new 16m minimum)
  • SPPR 2 – Minimum Private Open Space Standards for Houses (Notable references to Semi-Private and Public Open Space)
  • SPPR 3 – Car Parking
  • SPPR 4 – Cycle Parking and Storage

Effectively, the guidelines will push planning authorities and developers to achieve more (units) with less (land).  The number and variety of ‘best practice’ examples in the Appendix is disappointing.  Hopefully, the DHLGH will build-up a ‘good practice’ online library over time.

Link: – Sustainable Residential Development and Compact Settlements Guidelines for Planning Authorities (

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