Ireland will need more than 500,000 new homes by 2040

An extra 660,000 jobs need to be created for the estimated 1m increase in population , NPF says

There will need to be an extra 600,000 jobs created by 2040 in order to keep the vast majority of the estimated population of 6 million in employment. Photograph: The Irish Times

There will need to be an extra 600,000 jobs created by 2040 in order to keep the vast majority of the estimated population of 6 million in employment. Photograph: The Irish Times


Ireland will need an additional 550,000 homes to accommodate an estimated population increase of one million people by 2040 according to the Government’s draft National Planning Framework.

The plan aims to provide solutions to the challenges facing the Irish economy and society over the next two decades, including a projected doubling of the country’s population of over-65s alongside increased environmental and climate pressures.

The five major cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford have been targeted to accommodate half the expected population increase, with the other half dispersed between towns, villages and rural areas according to the draft document, titled “Ireland 2040- Our Plan”.

The population of Dublin is expected to grow by up to a quarter, or around 260,000, to just under 1.5 million by 2040, with increases of up to 60 per cent envisaged for the other cities.

Large towns of over 10,000 people in the east, midlands and south will grow by up to a quarter, but there will be an attempt to accelerate the growth rate of large towns in the north and west by 40 per cent to compensate for their “significantly weaker urban structure”.

Growth figures for small towns and rural areas will be targeted at 15 per cent.

Of the 550,000 additional dwellings that need to be provided by 2040, 40 per cent of these are earmarked for existing built-up areas.

Dublin will ideally provide a net increase of 143,000 new homes, with other cities and suburbs contributing 132,000 of the total, and 275,000 provided between other large urban areas, rural areas and small towns.

Objectives mentioned in the housing section of the 150-page draft plan include the reduction of the national housing vacancy rate to 5 per cent from the current level of 9.15 per cent, which represents around 180,000 empty properties according to official figures.

Housing density

Building heights should be increased to allow for denser development, and the document outlines the potential for establishing a new national land development agency will work with local authorities, public bodies and businesses to use public lands for “regeneration and investment”.

The objectives also allude to the strengthening of compulsory purchase powers “to enable urban development in certain circumstances”.

Ireland will ultimately move towards “regional parity” by 2040, with improved mobility, communications, energy systems and public services/facilities in other regions to counter the legacy dominance of Dublin.

Some specific infrastructure priorities included in the plan are Metro North, the second runway at Dublin Airport and a possible “Celtic Interconnector” to France which could help sure-up energy supply post-Brexit.

Brexit will also necessitate the improvement of ports and airports to facilitate faster transit times between Ireland and the EU, it says.

The document proposes strengthening international electricity connections while also reducing the country’s dependence on imported energy, and delivering over 50 per cent of electricity needs through renewable sources by 2030.

Policy initiatives such as improved accessibility to the northwest, protecting the Irish language and prioritising the development of greenways and blueways are also mentioned, as are the need to expand the national ambulance fleet and build new schools.

There will need to be an extra 600,000 jobs created by 2040 in order to keep the vast majority of the estimated population of 6 million in employment.

Responding to the publication, Green Party transport spokesman Ciarán Cuffe said “throwing more roads” at the issue of interurban transport was inappropriate, and railways were being left to “wither on the vine”.

“Without clear targets for tackling traffic and reducing congestion we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The only clear goal for transport is to get people faster by car from city to city by motorway,” he said.

The National Planning Framework will be placed on statutory footing, in contrast to its predecessor National Spatial Strategy from 2002 which was not, and its implementation will be overseen by a new Office of the Planning Regulator.

The final version of the National Planning Framework is expected to be finalised in December, and will be accompanied by a 10-year National Investment Plan that will provide funding for long-term capital projects set out in the framework.

Members of the public are able to make submissions with their views to the website by 3rd November as part of an ongoing public consultation process.