Paul Dixon

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The Garden Room

A window on a solution to Ireland's housing supply.

In Ireland there is an exemption for Planning Permission for Garden Rooms up to 4m in height. The use purpose of the Garden Room is to enhance the family’s lifestyle.

One way to expand the availability of rental property in Ireland in no time at all, and hence solve student housing and rental availability in general, would be to double the Garden Room exemption limit to 50 sq m and to allow for residential use. The 4m height limit need not be raised since a mezzanine structure woud allow use of an upper floor high enough to sit at a table. Were this to be allowed then home owners could install two bedroom prefab units in their gardens and rent them out. These would, of course, have to comply with existing regulations for residential properties regarding minimum standards.

There will be arguments that this is a retrograde step but you have to weight that against the cost of doing nothing.

Underlying the planning laws in Ireland is an assumption that everyone can have a house with a garden. However, we now know that this is unrealizable for many prospective homeowners and if the problem of housing supply is to be solved then Ireland will have to move more rapidly towards the Continental European model of higher urban density.

Since the low density urban sprawl cannot simply be converted to high rise the next best thing would be to increase the density of that sprawl by allowing prefabs in gardens. The existing regulations are a luxury that can no longer be afforded.