Sir, – Garrett Sherry ("Housing shortage making Dublin unattractive location for business", Opinion & Analysis, July 17th) makes many valid points about the need to increase housing supply in Dublin. However, one of his proposed solutions, to reduce the quality of apartment housing, would be deeply regressive. In 2007 after detailed research and wide consultation, and responding to public demand, Dublin introduced much improved minimum standards for apartments, by an overwhelming vote of city councillors.
Apartments are now being developed to these new standards and are a great success.
A report in your newspaper (Bernice Harrison, "Clontarf sea view scheme in demand", July 18th) described one scheme as follows: "Building regulations and standards have happily changed since the pre-boom apartment-building era and it shows in Seascape. The apartments are larger, each has good internal storage as well as a large storage unit in the car park, some apartments have utility rooms, there are no long corridors, insulation and soundproofing has improved".
Despite having bought the site at the top of the market, the builders could still construct to the improved standards with prices for apartments from €295,000 upwards.
A better solution to promote the greater supply of good quality apartment homes would be to introduce an effective and easy to operate vacant land levy as recommended to Government in 2013 by the then lord mayor Oisín Quinn’s taskforce on vacant land. Such a levy would increase the supply of development land on to the market, so moderating its price, allowing developers who want to build to get on with construction of homes.
There is a vacant land levy currently before the Dáil but it could be made more effective and simpler to operate if it were modelled on the self-assessment approach of the Local Property Tax.
Garrett Sherry writes that we need to attract and retain skilled workers, and that these highly mobile workers make decisions where to live on the basis of quality of life factors. This is indeed true, but housing quality is a central “quality of life” factor, and many of the key skilled workers we need to attract and retain come from countries where quality spacious apartments are taken as the norm.
Lowering our apartment standards will act as a deterrent to us attracting and retaining these highly mobile and skilled workers. – Yours, etc,