Government must look at economics to get more apartments built, says Tánaiste

Housing market needs ‘injection of adrenaline’ to see developers on large-scale builds

Tánaiste Simon Coveney: ‘This year we will add over 10,000 social housing units to the stock and next year, it will probably be 12,000.’ Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty

Tánaiste Simon Coveney: ‘This year we will add over 10,000 social housing units to the stock and next year, it will probably be 12,000.’ Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty

 

The government needs to look at the economics of house building in order to get developers building at the rate necessary to tackle the housing crisis, according to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney

Mr Coveney said the release of new figures showing that there are now just over 3,800 homeless children in Ireland shows that the government needs to do more and to continue to accelerate its social housing build program.

“This year we will add over 10,000 social housing units to the stock and next year, it will probably be 12,000 so we need to continue to accelerate that program so families that are homeless today can have social housing options.

“We also need to ensure that we have a functioning rental market that also gives options for families – whether they are supported by the state or not - as it is, rents are too expensive in Ireland.

“Again, it’s a supply problem – and so we are looking at ways in which we can drive more construction of apartments in city centres I think it will be one of the things that we are looking at carefully in advance of this budget.”

Major schemes

Mr Coveney said that there were a number of developers and builders in Cork city who have obtained planning permission to build large-scale apartment complexes around the city but have not done so to date.

“They are not building them at the moment because they can’t make the numbers add up and we need to look at that to see if we can improve the economics of that,” he said.

Mr Coveney said that major apartment schemes were being built in Dublin to meet the housing need and while there were some being built in Cork, more needs to be done to encourage developers to build outside the capital.

“There are some apartments being built in Cork but I think we need to inject sort of adrenaline into the system if you like in terms of getting apartments built but we need to be very careful with how we do that.

“You can make mistakes by introducing tax incentives to encourage certain types of building. We have seen that in the past with ghost estates all over the country so I think the government will be very cautious in this area.

“But I think there is a recognition that we need to look seriously at how we can help the building of more apartments to match all of the offices that are being built at the moment in the city centre.”

Overcoming homelessness

Mr Coveney said overcoming homelessness in Ireland will only be solved by an increased supply of housing given that the population is growing by between 70,000 and 80,000 a year.

“But we certainly have serious pressures from a housing perspective still on many many families and we need to drive supply which will ultimately be the solution for this.

“And not just social housing - also affordable housing, affordable rental accommodation, cost rental and the conventional purchase market for housing.

“All of those areas need to increase because if you just concentrate on one, well then you have a distortion impact on other sectors and the government is looking at ways in which we can get more apartments built faster.

“We have already looked at how we can do that by changing planning laws - we introduced a new fast track planning system through An Bord Pleanála to get large developments decisions faster.

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