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Irish Budget boosts housing supply

Words: Roger Milne
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Irish housing and planning minister Simon Coveney has welcomed this week’s Budget settlement, which sees a 50 per cent increase in expenditure on housing-related policies.

It is also introduces fresh help for first-time buyers and a €200 million fund to relieve critical infrastructural blockages and enable the delivery of large-scale housing on key development sites.

Additional funding is being provided to An Bord Pleanála to support implementation of fast-track measures to streamline the application process for large residential developments.

The Irish Government also plans to spend €319 million on roads and public transport next year as part of an overall €4.5 billion investment in infrastructure.

Public expenditure minister Paschal Donohoe said €319 million would be allocated to transport development such as regional and local road improvements in 2017 and would cover the completion of Dublin’s Luas cross-city expansion by the end of next year.

It would also include spending on building and improving roads such as the Gort-to-Tuam route in County Galway, Gorey to Enniscorthy, and the New Ross bypass in County Wexford.

“Our priorities over the next number of years include those major transport projects such as Luas cross-city, the new Metro North and the Dart expansion programme,” said the minister.

Housing organisations have welcomed the boost in funding, but are divided over the effectiveness of the new help-to-buy scheme.

Meanwhile, the Irish Planning Institute has welcomed plans to expand the Living Cities Initiative, but noted that efforts to increase city and town centre living risk being undermined by the decision to focus the Help to Buy scheme for first-time buyers on new-build homes.

According to the institute: “Limiting the help to buy scheme to new build homes means that the emphasis is likely to be on greenfield sites and not reusing existing stock in our town and city centres which is also essential.”

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