Saturday 20 December 2014

High-density doesn't have to mean the shoebox flats built in the boom

Published 29/05/2014 | 02:30

There seems to be a marked reluctance to commit to high-density living here despite most of our European neighbours living in apartments, without any apparent drop in their standard of living.
There seems to be a marked reluctance to commit to high-density living here despite most of our European neighbours living in apartments, without any apparent drop in their standard of living.

THE dream may have been a spacious family home on a generous site, but dreams can change too.

Dr Mary Kelly's comments that high-density developments should be favoured where appropriate is a timely warning to us all that three-bed semi-detached homes with gardens are not suitable in built-up urban areas where land is expensive and in short supply.

There seems to be a marked reluctance to commit to high-density living here despite most of our European neighbours living in apartments, without any apparent drop in their standard of living.

The problem is that people associate high-density living with shoebox apartments. The reality can be far different. Clever architects are more than capable of providing a lot of housing on a small site. Temple Bar is testament to this. Amsterdam, London and other cities are home to countless families who enjoy the space afforded by a three-bedroom house.

Duplex apartments, homes built over a number of storeys, are one solution. Providing communal laundry facilities can help reduce the amount of space needed.

Larger, well-built homes with amenities close by are key to encouraging families to purchase or rent with a view to settling down on a long-term basis. Parks, roof terraces and balconies can provide open space, schools and shops should be nearby and good public transport links available.

Many of the amenities are already in place in our cities. It's worth noting that we spent €775m developing the Luas system in Dublin, almost €700m upgrading the DART and rail commuter network into the city, along with €75m on the Cork-Midleton line and another €106m on the Ennis to Athenry service.

Not building homes close to these services would be a scandal, and an appalling waste of taxpayers' money. Land is available, and further development would also aid our financially-challenged public transport companies by providing extra passengers.

The worst thing we can do right now is extend the reach of our cities. Low-density housing, leading to further sprawl, is not the answer.

Irish Independent

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