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Irish think-tank argues Covid-19 response requires planning re-set 

Words: Roger Milne
Flats / iStock-916468792

Key planning policies encouraging high-density development and urban flats may have to be rethought because of the impact of Covid-19 on the property market, according to a report published by Ireland’s Economic & Social Research Institute.

The document argues that the pandemic could mean less investment in new housing by developers.

It highlights that uncertainty created by the pandemic, combined with new health and safety restrictions on building sites and possible issues for builders getting loans, were factors likely to reduce investment in housing and lead to a decline in completions.

The report further suggests that Covid-19 could skew demand away from city and town centre flats as remote workers eye houses on bigger plots.

“While the permanency of this shift to remote working remains to be seen, many companies have already signalled that employees will be given greater opportunities to work from home going forward.

“This may reduce the need for workers to be located near city centres both as a direct result of remote working and also the knock-on effect of reduced economic activity in city centres.

”In turn, this may result in decreased demand for housing in urban areas where house prices and rents are currently highest."

The report's authors argue that the existing move towards higher density models of accommodation is likely to be more challenging as a result of Covid-19. 

“Households, particularly those with children, may place more emphasis on green space and houses rather than apartments. If the pandemic leads to a systemic re-evaluation of households housing preferences, then this may alter the composition of demand."

The paper suggests future research should look at how planning policy reacts to the changes brought on by the pandemic. 

“Is city-led development going to be as required going forward with a more agile ‘working from home’ culture and can this be an opportunity for a rejuvenation of rural areas and provincial towns?” asked the report.

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