Theme 3: Quality Housing and Sustainable Neighbourhoods

 Icon for Theme 3  Introduction

Creating liveable neighbourhoods which provide for quality housing and social infrastructure is essential to delivering sustainable communities. Such ‘healthy placemaking’ requires a balance to be struck between encouraging a compact pattern of growth through the densification of the built environment and facilitating high-quality and inclusive urban design which respects and enhances existing amenities and heritage assets.

The City Council encourages residential development through its proactive land management policies and planning frameworks. In the period since the adoption of the 2016 Plan, the City has seen a significant increase in the delivery of new housing with 7,078 dwellings completed in the Dublin City Council area between 2016 and mid-2020.

The City currently provides a broad range of indoor and outdoor community facilities which include: 

The phrase “social infrastructure” is used to describe facilities such as healthcare, education, community centres, libraries, swimming pools, public spaces, childcare services, recreational facilities and playgrounds. Such facilities form an essential part of all neighbourhoods. These facilities are needed across the City in order to meet the social, health and cultural requirements of the communities that they serve. They should be delivered in tandem with new residential development.

The City Council plays a key role in funding, delivering and running community facilities and services across the City. It invests every year in new social infrastructure and upgrades and improves a wide range of existing social infrastructure through capital projects including public realm upgrades, sports facility refurbishments and enhancements to public parks. The Council also implements a wide range of strategies relating to disability, ageing, integration and has statutory responsibilities relating to disability, travellers and people experiencing exclusion.

With significant population growth forecast, Dublin City must consider how best to plan for new and growing communities and an increasingly diverse population. The forthcoming Development Plan will need to include objectives to facilitate and deliver on the housing needs of current and future populations in locations that are served by good quality transport connections and infrastructure as well as addressing social infrastructure provision. There will be an increased policy focus on the creation of attractive well-designed neighbourhoods that are distinct, adaptable, inclusive, safe/ secure, age friendly and walkable. 

Background and Context

Policy on housing and the development of communities in the forthcoming Development Plan will need to be consistent with the new higher tier planning policy framework of the National Planning Framework (NPF), the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) and the Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan (MASP).

The RSES supports a sequential approach to development with a primary focus on the consolidation of sites within or contiguous to the existing built-up area of the City. The need for well-designed, lifetime adaptable, infill and brownfield development close to existing services and facilities, supported by universal design and improved urban amenities, including public spaces and parks as well as direct accessible walking routes is promoted.

The City Council will continue to encourage the regeneration of key urban sites, maximise opportunities provided by existing and planned public transport infrastructure and proactively use active land measures to facilitate compact growth. It will be important to ensure that future housing is developed in an appropriate and sustainable manner, in the right locations at the right densities and served by the necessary social and physical infrastructure in order to enhance liveability and create a good quality of life.

Key Issues

Quality Housing, Healthy Place-Making and Urban Design

National and regional policy in respect to social and community development has become increasingly focused on improving public health, wellbeing and quality of life through the physical and functional design of the environment.

The new City Development Plan will seek to promote ‘Healthy Placemaking’, social integration and physical activity through the design and layout of the built environment and by encouraging the integration of quality connected green infrastructure and active modes of travel with neighbourhood planning. The provision of an appropriate quantity and quality of residential accommodation of an appropriate density and design in well-designed urban neighbourhoods will be a key consideration. It will also be important to ensure that good quality housing across owner occupied and rental housing tenures is provided in sustainable communities in the City.

Social Inclusion

Sustainable neighbourhoods are those that are mixed-use, mixedtenure, adaptable and inclusive. The new City Development Plan will need to respond to challenges such as social exclusion, socio-economic disadvantage, poor accessibility and the increasing pressure on urban land. The needs of children, older and people with disabilities together with ethnic groups will in particular need to be considered in the Plan. In response to these requirements, the development of age-friendly and universally accessible accommodation and public spaces in close proximity to neighbourhood centres and community health care facilities will be actively encouraged in Dublin City. Social inclusion and active citizenship will be facilitated through policy support for community engagement and local participation.

Social Infrastructure Provision

The RSES introduces the concept of the ‘10 minute’ settlement. This concept of mixed-use development envisages a range of community facilities and services being accessible in short walking/ cycling timeframes from homes or accessible by high quality public transport in larger settlements. The Council recognises that the equitable provision of a range of good quality, fit-for-purpose and easily accessible social infrastructure in existing and developing areas is a key element in the development of sustainable, healthy communities across the City. The careful alignment of new development, sustainable transport modes and social infrastructure provision will be an essential focus of the Development Plan process in order to coordinate and phase development in line with the availability of essential social and community infrastructure, services and amenities.

Housing Tenure and Mix

The Development Plan Housing Strategy is the tool that the City Council uses to respond to the demand for housing growth in order to deliver sustainable residential development. This process involves the evidence-based allocation of zoned land to meet projected housing needs with consideration given to the mix of housing sizes and types and the requirements of different socio-economic groups.

The proportion of older persons (65+) is lower than the national average but is likely to increase in the coming years in line with overall demographic trends.

It will be important to ensure that housing and associated facilities and amenities are planned in a sustainable, balanced and spatially appropriate manner. Meeting the housing needs of our growing population is essential to ensure sustainable communities where the needs of all sectors of society through different stages of the lifecycle are facilitated. Age/ disability friendly and family friendly housing provision will be essential to allow for sustainable communities in our City and help meet the housing needs of our growing population.

The City has also seen the emergence of new housing typologies such as built to rent, co living and student accommodation. Whilst these play an integral role in the housing market, they must be planned for in an appropriate manner and there must be appropriate policies regarding suitable locations for such development.

Housing Affordability

It is a requirement under the National Planning Framework and the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy that each Local Authority undertake a Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA). It is an objective of the RSES that such a HNDA be done on a regional basis, and guidance from central government is pending. It is envisaged that the HNDA will help inform Development Plan policy responses about the future location, typology3 , tenure and mix of housing. This in turn will inform the provision of a sufficient land supply in the right locations to deliver future additional housing.

As identified in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, the development of a new affordable ‘cost-rental’ sector has been identified as part of the reform of the Irish housing system. In this regard, the Plan will need to consider how approved housing bodies and other sectoral agencies can be supported in the provision of a greater diversity of housing type and tenure, including social and affordable housing and explore new models of low cost rental and affordable homeownership.

Planning for a Post COVID-19 Environment

The pandemic raises new challenges for quality housing in the City, including the design of shared accommodation schemes such as student accommodation and coliving and greater flexibility needed for the design of homes in the context of home working.

The Covid-19 pandemic has spedup the digitisation of community organisation, collaboration and action which is increasingly playedout using social media platforms and smart phone applications. The pandemic presents an opportunity for the Council to harness digital platforms in order to make more efficient use of community networks, community assets and to enhance community resilience.

The practical and operational challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic have the potential to undermine the efficient optimum use of community infrastructure given the restrictions on access and on the nature and capacity of their use. The pandemic however, may also present new opportunities for existing local neighbourhoods which could become an enhanced focal point for weekday community activity as increased numbers of people work from home thereby reinforcing the role of neighbourhoods as local service centres.

Quality Housing and Sustainable Communities – Some Key Questions

1 How should the Development Plan promote compact growth and increase housing delivery in accordance with the NPF and RSES?
2 Do you think that the City’s neighbourhoods deliver a good quality of life and what would make your community a more ‘liveable’ place?
3 How can we plan for different sectors of society including an ageing population, people with disabilities, children and young people and ethnic minorities?
4 What is the best way to integrate the provision of new housing with the delivery of supporting social infrastructure to cater for a growing population?
5 Where should new forms of residential development such as 'Built to Rent' and 'Shared Living' be located?
6 How can the Development Plan address affordability of housing in the City?
7 What impact has Covid-19 had on your neighbourhood and community and how could we adapt to deal with its impact?

What measures should be considered to encourage the use of vacant sites, upper floors of buildings and underutilised infill sites?

  • 3 -  Typology refers to different housing types e.g. apartments, housing, sheltered accommodation, housing for the elderly etc.

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