Saturday 21 September 2019

Fire safety moves 'threaten developments'

'The proposals are due to take effect from October 1 with no transition period outlined as yet. Should no period be implemented it is likely that a number of build-to-rent schemes will need to return to planning stages' (stock photo)
'The proposals are due to take effect from October 1 with no transition period outlined as yet. Should no period be implemented it is likely that a number of build-to-rent schemes will need to return to planning stages' (stock photo)

Michael Cogley

Proposed changes to apartment standards in Ireland could challenge the viability of numerous schemes across the country, according to industry sources.

The Government opened a public consultation on the changes to the 'TGB Fire Safety 2006' document in June. The proposals detail changes to open plan flats, as well as an obligation to install sprinklers.

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Other changes include the extension of corridors to help contain fires and keep them away from inhabitants. It also includes an obligation to ensure cooking appliances are at least three metres from the escape route of the apartment.

Submissions to the proposals have been made from various stakeholders in the construction industry.

"Most of those that made submissions reiterated their support for the highest fire safety standards but stated that many of the proposals were excessive and will result in significant cost increases and require substantial design changes," according to a source familiar with the matter.

The source said that the changes could add an additional €4,000 onto the cost of a two-bedroom apartment.

The proposals are due to take effect from October 1 with no transition period outlined as yet. Should no period be implemented it is likely that a number of build-to-rent schemes will need to return to planning stages.

"Several developers within the Dublin region are close to submitting applications under the fast track planning system and they now fear that should elements of the draft be implemented it will make their application redundant," the source said.

Assistant professor at UCD's School of Architecture Orla Hegarty said that any proposed planning applications should have been in line with current regulations.

"Fire safety is not assessed as part of the planning application so it's on the developer to ensure the layouts they have sought planning for complied with building regulations," she said.

Build-to-rent has become increasingly popular in recent years and accounts for the majority of apartment development in the country. The model has attracted institutional investors. The developments are purpose-built for long-term rental.

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