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'Arbitrary' height caps in cities must end to address housing crisis, says Murphy

Ending “arbitrary” height caps in cities to allow much taller buildings must happen to address the housing crisis, Minister Eoghan Murphy has said.

Addressing a major housing conference at Dublin Castle, Mr Murphy said removing the height caps makes sense as the Government seeks to build cities like Cork, Dublin and Galway upwards.

“We are planning for height and density changes which present new opportunities for architects and planners. This is as much about increasing the shoulder height across our cities and large towns than it is about allowing for tall landmark buildings which can make a statement,” he said.

“Removing those height caps so that we can have those taller buildings where it makes sense and have good design and not constrained by arbitrary height caps which have no basis in planning and design as we build our cities and plans upwards. But it is about having a choice about where you want to live,” he told delegates at the 'Ireland 2040 – Delivering the Vision for Housing' conference.

Mr Murphy, speaking to reporters, said plans to bring in private rental tenancies of indefinite duration will not happen until a new rent bill is passed by the Dáil.

“For the last number of months, I’ve been talking about it being the government's intention to bring in tenancies of indefinite duration and how I couldn’t do it in the current piece of legislation that’s hopefully going to be finalised in the Seanad this week,” he said.

“But that it was my intention for the second rent bill that’s coming after this bill that was going to be coming in the fourth quarter of this year.

But this has always been a government policy (and) we’re going to bring it forward now in the next rent bill.

Mr Murphy said that the bill that he is bringing through the House is going to triple and quadruple the length of time that tenants have before they have to leave and the landlord can only force you out on certain terms.

“But at the end of six years the landlord gets one opportunity to then say 'right you have to leave now' and they don’t have to give a reason. And then, if they don’t see that opportunity you fall into a second six-year, part four tenancy.

"That’s not working for a lot of people so we’re going to get rid of that, we’re going to allow tenancies of indefinite duration. So essentially, after six months you will start to accrue rights as a tenant,” he said.

The minister played down concerns of the collapse of a social housing scheme in Wexford, saying such a scenario “is rare.”

“What’s happened here, it is rare though. It is rare that a contract like that wouldn’t come to pass and it might be a sign that the actual wider housing market outside of some of our city and urban areas is improving and that’s changing demand, which is good,” he said.