‘Everyone has a right to a home – here is how it can be done’


Sir, – Dermot Desmond has set out some interesting ideas on solving Ireland’s housing crisis (“Everyone has a right to a home – here is how it can be done”, Opinion & Analysis, March 7th).

One of his suggestions is to reinstate the 80 per cent windfall tax, abolished in 2014, on gains from land disposal where those gains were attributable to zoning of land or a relevant planning decision.

However, this measure would not necessarily reduce the land-cost element in the purchase price of a new house or apartment.

In a recent land purchase in south Dublin for a large development of apartments, the land cost worked out at €200,000 per apartment.

The Kenny Report in 1973 recommended that, when land was zoned for housing development,it could be acquired by local authorities at existing use value plus 25 per cent.

The relevant local authority could then prepare a master plan for the area and could either carry out housing developments itself or arrange for private developers to construct schemes.

The two main advantages from this proposal are that the land-cost element of every house or apartment constructed would be massively reduced, and the local authority would have control over the layout and timing of housing schemes, and the hoarding of land by developers would be avoided.

Since 1973, no government has been prepared to implement Kenny’s recommendations, due to pressure from vested interests and concerns about the constitutionality of the proposals, in particular the rights to private property.

Maybe it is now time to re-examine the Kenny report and to take a whole new approach to housing provision in Ireland. – Yours, etc,