The Government has already introduced many measures that benefit developers

Cork property developer Michael O’Flynn wants VAT rate cut to 9% to assist viability of developments

Developer Michael O’Flynn: “we need a coherent plan on housing otherwise jobs are going to be affected.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Developer Michael O’Flynn: “we need a coherent plan on housing otherwise jobs are going to be affected.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

There was good news recently for Cork property developer Michael O’Flynn, who received permission from An Bord Pleanála to build 251 homes at a scheme in Celbridge, Co Kildare. He expects work to begin on site in August, and to begin marketing the properties from next spring.

O’Flynn used fast-track planning procedures to help speed up the planning process for large-scale projects during the housing crisis. Yet he continues to be unhappy at the lack of progress being made on housing – he estimates we will struggle to build half of the 40,000 units that many forecast are needed to satisfy demand this year.

“We need a coherent plan on housing otherwise jobs are going to be affected,” he told The Irish Times.

Among other things, O’Flynn would like the Government to reduce the VAT rate to 9 per cent to assist the viability of developments.

This is a proposal that has been promoted by the construction industry for some time, and one that the Government has steadfastly refused to introduce on the basis that it might be perceived as a tax break for developers. And that would not sit well with voters given the pain experienced in the property crash post-2008.

O’Flynn is right that more could be done to tackle the crisis, but this ignores the many measures that the Government has already introduced which undoubtedly benefited builders and developers.

Such as changes to the guidelines on design standards for new apartments reducing the spec of units; scrapping the height restrictions on buildings in urban locations; a Help-to-Buy scheme that only applies to first-time buyers of new homes; a fast-track planning process for schemes of 100 units or more, which goes straight to An Bord Pleanála; and a home-loan scheme for first-time buyers on low to middle incomes.

There’s also the new Land Development Agency, which plans to build 150,000 new homes. Not to mention the broader Project 2040 plan which involves billions of euro being invested in infrastructure that will facilitate a lot of housing development.