Government’s housing strategy misses opportunity to fix causes of boom and bust

14 July 2016

The Government’s Housing strategy leaked today and due to be published next week contains a lot of measures but no clear direction.

It contains sops to the construction industry, for example upfront payment for Part 5 social houses and the use of public land for mixed tenure development, the majority of which will be for private sale, but appears to contain no measures to stop the hoarding of sites and land until prices and profits rise. 

The Minister also needs to make clear that the 50,000 new units will be publicly owned or in the not-for-profit sector, as proposed by the Oireachtas Housing and Homelessness committee.

The Labour Party would also have serious concerns about the proposal to send social housing plans straight to An Bord Pleanala.

It is not the local element of the Part 8 planning process that causes the unacceptable delay in bringing funds allocated for social housing to fruition (at most 12 weeks) and should not be used as an excuse to erode local democracy.

Minister Coveney has also publicly stated that he intends to facilitate large private housing developments going straight to the Bord.  This is also alarming in view of all we have learned from tribunals about the need to a transparent planning process.

There are provisions in the strategy that I would welcome such as those that build on the €4b worth of measures already provided for in the capital plan announced last year.

However some badly-needed strategic proposals are missing. This would include plans to limit the amount of profit that can be made out of development land, a proposal that the Labour Party provides for in our Social and Affordable Housing Bill. Such a measure would ensure that we don’t enter into another boom and bust cycle as the population is set to grow by half a million people over the next 20 years.

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