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Affordable housing poses a big challenge in Ireland

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing definition should include social homes / Shutterstock_176229827

President of the Irish Planning Institute Joe Corr has told a conference that one of the most pressing challenges facing built environment professionals is the delivery of affordable housing.

Speaking at the institute’s autumn planning conference on Friday (4 October), he said planning is “not the roadblock to housing delivery”.

Corr explained that the planning profession has responded to the government’s call for fast-track planning for housing with the implementation of the Strategic Housing Development Programme. Despite this “increased planning activity, figures for building on the ground need to increase to reflect the market need”, he said.

The president was responding to recent reports in the media on the rate of construction for homes approved under the programme. Since the scheme was implemented in 2017, An Bord Pleanála has given approval to 16,172 homes and 7,573 student houses. Construction has begun on a third of these.

Corr said: “While on the surface it looks like construction is stalling, time needs to be given for the overall process to be completed. For example, the eight-week period in which judicial reviews can be taken creates a two-month pause.”

He noted that the “impressive” number approved under the programme versus the evidence on housing construction indicates that planning is not a “roadblock”. He said: “Part of the solution is to provide the planning profession with adequate resources to ensure that local authorities and the Land Development Agency unlock strategic lands for development where planning permission has already been granted.”

The Irish Planning Institute has called for the focus to shift from the granting of planning permissions to the delivery of housing. Members of the planning profession should strengthen their collaboration with colleagues such as developers, utilities workers and housing bodies to make sure that housing is delivered efficiently at a local level.

Corr concluded: “The Irish Planning Institute firmly believes that effective delivery of housing must happen at a local level. We are calling for the establishment of planner-led delivery teams at local authority level to unlock strategic lands where planning permissions have been granted in order to expedite development.”

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