Building lobby criticises election promises on housing

Construction Industry Federation says no political party is addressing the issue of building costs

Election promises to build more housing will not be realised unless the cost of building is addressed, the Construction Industry Federation has said. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Election promises to build more housing will not be realised unless the cost of building is addressed, the Construction Industry Federation has said. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

 

Election promises by political parties to build more housing will not be realised unless the cost of building is addressed, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has said.

Housing has emerged as a principal issue in the election, with each of the parties promising to build more homes. But the industry lobby group says none of the party manifestos address “barriers to delivery that housebuilders are facing on the ground”.

These include procurement, access to finance and engaging with utilities.

And it warns that affordable housing cannot be achieved unless government-related costs are reduced. Citing an example, spokesman Shane Dempsey said new regulations mean that the costs of bringing in water to a housing estate has to be paid up front at the cost of €5,600 per home.

Mr Dempsey said the industry is in a “weird, malformed equilibrium” where the number of mortgage approvals is no more than the 21,000 homes which were built last year.

The CIF has called on the next government to amend planning regulations to lower the minimum number of units that have to be built – currently 35 per hectare. These planning densities are too intense and are forcing developers to build apartments that are not needed outside Dublin.

Introducing flexibility on a regional or market basis on densities would allow regional homebuilders to secure finance to build homes, it says.

It is also seeking a State-backed shared equity scheme that would enable the average couple to secure a mortgage. “Once they do that, the banks will see that there is a realisable market there to allow homebuilders to build,” Mr Dempsey said.

“Injecting money is fine to enable the demand side, but you won’t address the supply side unless we address those issues.”

The CIF says the sector will require 100,000 more workers in the coming years. It is looking for State support through the National Training Fund surplus.

Builders also want the next Government to reintroduce State payment of apprenticeships, claiming that many construction firms could not afford apprenticeships after the industry collapsed 10 years ago,