Just 37 social housing units delivered by private sector last year

Part V rules require developers to set aside 10% of new builds for affordable housing

New social housing in Beaumont, Dublin:   regulations were overhauled in 2015. Photograph: Alan Betson

New social housing in Beaumont, Dublin: regulations were overhauled in 2015. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Developers delivered just 37 social housing units last year under Part V planning regulations, which require the allocation of 10 per cent of new homes for use as social housing.

Despite the pick-up in construction, the figure is significantly less than the 64 delivered in 2015 and nowhere near Minister for Housing Simon Coveney’s target of 4,700 over five years, which equates to about 900 units a year.

The latest figure for Part V builds emerged at a meeting of the Oireachtas committee on housing, planning and community last week.

The People Before Profit TD for Dublin West, Ruth Coppinger, said the figures show that the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland strategy, which envisages 22,000 new social and affordable homes by 2021, is not working.

“The plan, the figures and the projects are not sufficient to suggest that there will be houses even in two or three years,” she said.

Slow recovery

The Department of Housing has previously stated that the low Part V delivery to date reflects building rates in the private sector, which have still not recovered from the crash. The department expects the supply, however, to accelerate as the sector recovers.

The latest figures suggest there were only 482 Part V social housing units delivered to local authorities between 2012 and 2016, compared with 10,712 over the previous five years.

The regulations were overhauled in 2015, when the requirement that developers allocate 20 per cent of all builds for social and affordable housing was reduced to 10 per cent.

However, the new rules stipulate that builders can no longer offer cash to local authorities in lieu of this obligation, or offer sites or land elsewhere, a practice that had been widespread during the boom. These latter changes mean that social housing in every new development of 10 or more dwellings is now guaranteed.

Supply

The Government hopes the pick-up in private housing supply will also deliver a new stream of social housing separate from that directly procured by local authorities.

Under the revised Part V rules, local authorities can now also lease the houses long-term so as to reduce pressure on their capital budgets.

In an article in the Sunday Times, Mr Coveney insisted there was “compelling evidence” that the Government’s housing strategy was working. He said “the unprecedented increase” in the Government’s social housing investment programme to nearly €5.5 billion over a five-year period is ramping up supply.

The Government’s strategy has as its target the construction of 47,000 social housing units by 2021, which will come from a mixture of its own procurement programme (newbuilds and refurbished existing units) and Part V units from the private sector.

“Rebuilding Ireland is about increasing supply. Our overall target is to increase housing supply to 25,000 homes per year by 2021, effectively doubling the output of 12,600 homes recorded in 2015,” Mr Coveney said.