Almost 10,000 homes are expected to be built each year in Dublin city and county under the Government’s housing action plan – a threefold increase in the capital’s output.
The Government has set a national construction target of 25,000 homes a year, but 40 per cent are expected to be built in Dublin. The need for great numbers of new homes in the region is unquestionable, but the task of increasing annual supplies to 10,000 is mammoth.
The plan refers to the “recent decade of severe under-supply” of new housing in Dublin, which has resulted in a deficit in the capital “likely to currently exceed 50,000 homes”.
Last year, just under 3,000 homes were built across the four local authorities. Planning permission is in place for 26,886 homes, but only 4,809 - or less than 20 per cent – are under construction.
And those 4,809 won’t all be completed by the end of this year, meaning substantially less than half the 10,000 target will be met. Despite what seems like a vast gap to bridge, the construction industry says it is up to the task, if the measures detailed in the plan are implemented.
"I do believe it is possible to meet the targets for Dublin, depending on how quickly the constraints to development are removed," said Hubert Fitzpatrick, director of the Irish Home Builders Association.
Chief among the measures that will allow the industry to respond to demand are, he said, the €200 million fund to put infrastructure – roads and utilities – in place to make sites ready for construction, and the proposed "fast track" An Bord Pleanála planning process for developments of 100 houses.
While there is little argument that infrastructure is needed to allow the 22,000 homes which already have planning permission be built, not everyone is convinced that allowing developers apply directly to the board – and not the city or county council – is a good idea.
“We are unclear how applications to the board for larger housing applications will be dealt with and if they can be decided significantly more quickly than an application to a local authority. One hundred units would also appear to be quite a low threshold, ” said
, president of the
Irish Planning Institute
While developers would have to engage in “pre-planning” discussions with local authorities, before going to the board, it is unclear how this process would work, she said.
“It also further removes communities from their local authority and development plan.”
Similar concerns have been raised by councillors.
"I would be concerned developers would bypass the council planners and go straight to the board, a vital level of local expertise could be lost," said mayor of Fingal Darragh Butler.
More than 40 per cent of homes built in Dublin last year were in Fingal, and its chief executive Paul Reid is keen to point out that the blockage in housing supply is not at local authority level.
“There has tended to be some unjust, in my view, public criticism that the local authorities have been slow to respond to the current housing crisis. I’m confident that Fingal has mobilised comprehensively.”
The report refers to facilitating “mixed-tenure development on State lands” and mentions the initiative by
Dublin City Council
to seek expressions of interest from the market for a mix of housing developments. However, there was disappointment at the lack of specific funding plans for these sites.
“There is no channel of funding directed to the land initiative sites at Oscar Traynor Road, O’Devaney Gardens and St Michael’s Estate. We need to know what Government funding is available for these sites,” said Daithí Doolan, Sinn Féin chair of the council’s housing committee.
“Dublin is at the epicentre of the housing crisis and, without specific funding commitments, this plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”