Jan calls time on “tenements”

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Labour Party Housing spokesperson Jan O'Sullivan

LIMERICK TD Jan O’Sullivan has called on Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to rescind apartment guidelines that allow for shared accommodation, which has been labelled “21st-century tenements”.

This follows cross-party, and industry, criticism of the plans to build large scale single-bed occupancy units with shared cooking facilities.

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O’Sullivan, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson, takes the view that if the Minister wants to genuinely address his “tone-deaf approach” to housing he must start by withdrawing the planning regulations he introduced that allow for co-living accommodation.

“These units are being championed by speculators and developers and will result in cramped living conditions and new lows in standards for public housing. These modern tenements are ludicrous and not a solution to the housing crisis,” Deputy O’Sullivan declared.

“I don’t know of anyone who would be excited to live in such a development.”

Higher density living,  Jan believes, is the future of housing in Ireland. But she also maintains that Minister Murphy has “no ambition” for quality public housing.

“There will be those who will seek apartments over houses for more long term living, especially in cities. But as we move towards this model of housing we still have to protect living standards. Just because someone is living alone, or in a smaller home, does not mean that they should need to be prepared to accept a one bedroom unit without living space or cooking facilities.

“We need to solve this crisis by building quality homes in well-serviced communities. Jan went onto say that Labour recognise public housing is an “essential part of the solution to our current crisis”.

“That is why we are committed to building 80,000 over five years which could be done for €16 billion if the ambition was there..”

In response, a spokesman for the Department of Housing, explained that the guidelines set out policy in relation to a range of apartment types that are needed to meet the accommodation needs of a variety of household types and sizes – including households with children, students, older people and an increasingly mobile workforce.

“This form of ‘niche’ development is not envisaged as an alternative or replacement to the more conventional apartment developments which are provided for elsewhere in the guidelines,” he added.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Minister Murphy expressed his disappointment to the Limerick Post “that the Labour Party is joining Sinn Féin in an attempt to cause confusion around CoLiving”.

“They are attempting to destroy a concept, successful in other cities, by convincing voters that a planning application, which has not been granted, is Government policy. It’s dishonest. These guidelines were introduced 14 months ago and the Labour Party had no issue with them at that time. CoLiving is actually bringing vibrancy back into Georgian homes in Limerick City and I would urge Jan O’Sullivan to visit the development championed by LDA chairman John Moran and then speak to fact rather than political populism.”