Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien signs order to ban future developments of shoebox co-living projects
O’Brien formally signed-off on regulations that outlaw the controversial apartments from ever being built again
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Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has officially signed an order to ban all future developments of shoebox co-living projects.
But there are almost 3,000 of these hutches in the planning system already that can go ahead, with hundreds granted in the weeks and months since Mr O’Brien announced his intentions.
The Minister called the proposals first mooted by his predecessor, Fine Gael’s Eoghan Murphy, as “bonkers” last year.
And on Tuesday morning of this week he formally signed-off on regulations that outlaw the controversial apartments from ever being built again.
But he has been criticised by the opposition for taking so long to do so after he said over four weeks ago he was making the move.
Mr O’Brien has been slammed by Sinn Féin housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, for beating around the bush.
Mr Ó Broin said that there will still be thousands of co-living apartments built because of the minister’s delaying.
And he said that there is a glaring loophole where local authorities can still grant planning permission if they conclude the developments meet “niche” demand.
However, there is “presumption” against granting planning in the new guidelines issued to all local authorities this week.
Mr Ó Broin said: “Minister O’Brien should have banned co-living outright during his first week in office.
“Instead he announced a review which took four months.
“He then announced a ban, but delayed giving it legal effect for another four and a half weeks.
“As a result we now have 14 live planning applications including three submitted after the ban was announced, all of which will be assessed under the old rules.
“Worse still, the ban isn’t even a ban as co-living applications can still be considered where the Local Authority believed there to be a demand for such accommodation.”
Minister O’Brien told the Mirror: “I always said when I brought the ban in that, yes, they couldn’t affect anything that was in the planning system already.
“Those grants that were actually in, they were already in the planning system.
“I couldn’t retrospectively change that because they’d lodged their applications under the 2018 guidelines.
“So, it’s like you applying for a house today, based on the planning law today.
“If you’ve applied based on the planning law today, I can’t come along in four weeks’ time and retrospectively change that.
“So it was floated – quite disingenuously actually – by Sinn Féin and some on the hard left that there was some delay there for it being done.
“There was no delay.
“We had to follow legal process, which sometimes Sinn Féin and others would just like to set aside.
“You can’t do that and you’ve got to be realistic and honest with people.
“Put it this way, I said I’d ban co-living, I said I’d do it on the basis of good, independent research and advice.
“I commissioned an independent report, I published it by the way, showed the different options, I made my decision, co-living is gone.”