Couples may have to give up dream of owning 3-bed semi

Duplexes to replace traditional houses in towns and cities

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Paul Melia Environment Correspondent

FAMILIES hoping to buy a home in our main towns and cities should not expect to own a three-bed semi-detached house with a spacious garden.

High-density homes, including duplex apartments with good public space and amenities, are the future of housing, An Bord Pleanala has warned.

The homes, which would come without the back and front gardens generations of couples have aspired to, will be built along key transport corridors in urban areas, with families sharing amenities such as parks and playgrounds.

An Bord Pleanala chairwoman Dr Mary Kelly said the planning appeals board would not rubber stamp construction of thousands of homes across the country to meet pent-up demand.

While rising prices would result in pressure for more new houses, allowing more traditional homes with gardens to be built would not make the best use of expensive infrastructure, including water treatment plants, roads and rail systems.

Her comments come as new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that house prices, particularly in Dublin, continue to rise due to a shortage of family homes coming on to the market.

There has been an 18pc increase in prices in the capital in the past year, with experts saying the shortage of supply means the city's housing market has gone from "lukewarm to scalding hot".

Builders' lobby group the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) warned that prices would continue to rise until more supply comes on stream.

But Dr Kelly cautioned against ignoring good planning policy. "There have been reports on housing shortages and, from what we can see, most commentators are predicting economic growth which has implications for the planning system," she said.

"We need to adhere to the principles of sustainable development. High-density doesn't mean high rise. We are looking for good quality design, with very good amenities, public space and a good public realm.