Sustainable and Compact Settlements Guidelines for Planning Authorities

September 24, 2023


On the 31st of August 2023 the Minister published a draft of the ‘Sustainable and Compact Settlements Guidelines for Planning  Authorities’, (‘Draft Guidelines’) which will, when adopted, replace the Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas  Guidelines for Planning Authorities 2009.  

The Draft Guidelines seek to provide greater flexibility in support of delivering a broader range of housing typologies, with a  relaxation of traditional standards for ‘own door’ housing.  

This in turn supports higher densities for own door housing schemes. New density ranges are set out that respond to settlement  size, with more detailed guidance now provided for cities, large and medium sized towns, and smaller towns and villages, all with  the aim of delivering the sustainable and compact growth of settlements in accordance with the NPF. 

The Draft Guidelines seek to support a more consistent approach across local authorities and therefore are to be welcomed. The  below outlines some of the key aspects, however, we would be happy to discuss in greater detail.  


The Draft Guidelines seek to provide greater flexibility in respect to housing standards, with the following a summary of the specific  planning policy requirements (SPPRs): 

  • SPPR 1 – Separation Distances: A minimum separation distance of 16 metres (previously 22 metres) with provision for further  reductions in certain circumstances. 
  • SPPR 2 – Minimum Private Open Space Standards for Houses (minimum areas): Minimum requirement reduced to 20  sq.m – 1 bedroom house, 30 sq.m – 2 bedroom house, 40 sq.m – 3 bedroom house and 50 sq.m – 4 bedroom+ house. Further  reductions possible where high quality communal open space is provided.  
  • SPPR 3 – Public Open Space: New residential development 10% (minimum) of the net site area. CDPs are not to include  objectives that exceed 10% (open space) save in the case of a historic setting, (to be determined on a case by case). Offsets/financial contributions (in part or whole) in lieu of open space provision within an application site may be possible. 
  • SPPR 4 – Car Parking: In areas of high accessibility, car-parking provision should be minimised, substantially reduced or  wholly eliminated, while in areas of medium accessibility, car-parking provision should be substantially reduced. • SPPR 5 – Cycle Parking and Storage: In the case of residential units that do not have ground level open space or have  smaller terraces, a general minimum standard of 1 cycle storage space per bedroom should be applied (with visitor parking to  be also provided). 


The Draft Guidelines include revisions to the density ranges contained in the 2009 Guidelines and recommends a range of  densities based on different settlement types, which will provide greater clarity for Development Plans, LAPs and applications,  and which address some of the concerns highlighted when the Policy Approach Paper which was published in March 2023. The  recommended net density ranges for the different settlements are as follows:  

Centre Urban Suburban / Edge
Dublin/Cork 100-300 dph 50-250 dph 40-80 dph (+ 150 dph)
Limerick / Galway / Waterford 100-200 dph 50-150 dph 35-50 (+ up to 100 dph)
MASP Town 40-100 dph 40-100 dph 35-50 dph
Regional Growth Centres / Key Towns / Large  Towns 40-150 dph n/a 30-50 dph (+ up to 80 dph).
Small to Medium Sized Town (>1500 – 10,000) Respond to existing  context. n/a 25-40 dph
Rural Towns and Villages Respond to existing  context. n/a Respond to Existing context.
Source: Table 3.6 Draft Guidelines
A link to the Draft Guidelines can be found here. Submissions on the Draft Guidelines are invited up to the 5th of October 2023. We would be happy to discuss.
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