State needs 400,000 new homes to tackle housing crisis – Glenveagh CEO

Stephen Garvey spoke after Glenveagh Properties said it earned pre-tax profits of €46m last year

The Republic needs 400,000 new homes over the next decade to tackle its housing crisis, Stephen Garvey, chief executive of builder Glenveagh Properties warned on Tuesday.

Mr Garvey spoke after Glenveagh said that it earned pre-tax profits of €45.7 million last year, turning around a €15.7 million loss in 2020.

"I would say that Ireland needs 400,000 units over the next decade, and that's across every front," said Mr Garvey.

He added that this should include homes for first-time buyers, students and social and affordable housing.


State bodies such as the Central Bank of Ireland calculate that the Republic should build 30,000 to 35,000 homes a-year over the same period to house its growing population.

However, Mr Garvey argued that this did not take “latent demand” into account.

He noted that builders completed 20,000 dwellings in 2020, which did not meet the likely 30,000-plus demand.

Mr Garvey warned that developments granted permission under a new planning scheme, for projects with 100 or more houses, could get end up in court unless Government shakes up policy.

Government introduced the Large Residential Development scheme last month.

This requires builders to seek permission from local councils for big housing projects, rather than An Bord Pleanála, but provides for speedy appeals against planners' decisions.

Its predecessor, the fast-track strategic housing development initiative, gave An Bord Pleanála responsiblity for schemes of 100-plus properties.

However, plans for more than 11,000 homes given the go-ahead under that scheme now face High Court challenges.

The new law, planning policy and the Government’s own aims, set out in last year’s Housing for All report, must be aligned, Mr Garvey stressed.

Glenveagh believes building costs will rise 6 per cent this year. Its chief executive said the company works to cut expenses in the first place and limit what it passes on to buyers.

He added that Glenveagh sold properties for an average of €308,000 in 2021 against €311,000 the previous year.

Glenveagh’s revenues more than doubled in 2021 to €476.8 million from €232.3 million the previous year.

The company built 1,150 new homes in the year, a 47 per cent increase on 2020, despite a Government-imposed 13-week lockdown on construction.

During the year Glenveagh agreed to build more than 2,050 homes in partnerships with Dublin City and Fingal County councils.

It bought 12 new sites with space for more than 2,700 homes for a total of €72 million. The group intends to build more than 1,400 homes in 2022.

In a statement, Mr Garvey dubbed 2021’s performance “excellent” saying the company grew output by 36 per cent.

He added Glenveagh dealt with the “challenges of the pandemic” and remained on course to meet its ambition of building 3,000 homes a year.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas