In recent years, thanks to developments in the housing market and the quest for more sustainable lifestyles, we have seen the emergence of a type of housing hitherto unheard of in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: “Tiny Houses”.
“A tiny house is a removable or demountable construction made of neither masonry nor concrete, constituting a single housing unit and having a gross built area of less than 50 square metres.”
The concept of tiny houses refers both to an alternative form of housing, contributing to the mix of neighbourhoods, and to an opportunity to quickly and efficiently make use of vacant land that would otherwise be condemned to inactivity for prolonged periods of time.
Mounted on a trailer or even anchored to the ground, this new type of dwelling completes the panoply of different housing typologies known until now. This lightweight construction method aims to reduce costs while allowing building densities to increase in the medium to long term. In this way, lightweight construction helps to optimise land use.
It should be noted that equipment such as caravans, trailers or tents cannot be classified as tiny houses, as they are not buildings within the meaning of article 37 of the amended Law of 19 July 2004 on municipal planning and urban development.
In Luxembourg, current urbanistic local planning regulations are not yet adapted to provide an adequate framework for this emerging concept of light housing.
Thus, the ministry of Home Affairs has drawn up model regulations to provide a regulatory framework that municipalities can incorporate into their respective planning regulations, namely their general development plans (PAG), special development plans “new district” (PAP NQ), special development plans “existing district” (PAP QE) and regulations on buildings, public roads and sites (RBVS).
The Implementation Guide, which can be downloaded from this site, is designed to explain the content of the various texts proposed in order to facilitate their application and, where necessary, their adaptation to specific local circumstances.
The site also provides the different modules in Word format, distinguishing between procedures for amending existing texts and procedures for introducing new regulations.
The approach adopted in this context is one of soft law, involving the formulation of suggestions that municipalities are free to transpose and amend, rather than resorting to binding prescriptions.
Each of the modules is designed to be incorporated into the corresponding local planning regulations. As far as possible, they are designed to bring together all the relevant provisions in order to provide an easier overview, rather than scattering the relevant articles throughout the regulations in question.
The existing provisions of the town planning regulations remain untouched, as the proposed amendments relate only to tiny houses.
With these model regulations, the Ministry of Home Affairs intends to respond to the wishes expressed by those potentially interested in this alternative, sustainable and minimalist type of housing, which is certainly also more affordable and economical than conventional housing, and to guide local authorities in establishing the appropriate regulatory provisions.
While tiny houses are certainly not the definitive answer to the housing crisis, they can help to create additional housing on land that would otherwise lie fallow.
Last but not least, this initiative also allows for a diversity of housing which, by increasing the social mix, can have a positive impact on the quality of life in our communities.