Housing Delivery Must Take Centre Stage

Earlier this week the Irish Times published an opinion piece by one of Ireland’s largest homebuilders, calling for ‘new ways of thinking’ when it comes to the delivery of new homes. The premise of the article is that apartments are too costly to deliver – which many will agree with – and that, ultimately, homebuyers want own-door homes and a garden. Few can disagree with that. The piece further argues that more own-door housing would help tackle the housing crisis.

Whatever about the motivation behind this, the reality is that planning and housing policies  – in an idealistic attempt to achieve high density – have continued to ignore issue of viability, affordability, sustainability (in the fullest sense of the term), existing infrastructure (schools, public transport etc) and, most critically, what homebuyers actually want.

Since 2014, the team at Castlehaven have been working with homebuilders right across Ireland who are struggling to overcome policy hurdles and challenges to housing delivery. They want to deliver quality, affordable housing. They have the capacity to deliver quality, affordable housing, but the State keeps putting new roadblocks in their way. This is not sustainable.

Despite an acknowledgement by the current Government that delivery of homes of all types and tenure is the key to addressing Ireland’s housing crisis, Budget 2023 became the latest missed opportunity to support the people who are actually building homes.

The national rhetoric has landed firmly on the State building homes directly. And yes, this is a legitimate solution to a portion of one type of housing – social housing. But it is only one part of the overall solution, for only one tenure of housing. The private sector cannot continue to be hamstrung by poor policymaking.

The answer to all housing questions leads back to supply

Information released by Threshold/Citizens Information Board revealed that just 716 homes were available to rent in August, down from an average of 9,300 before the pandemic.

In further support of the supply crisis narrative, Sherry Fitzgerald released its latest round of property figures this week, which show that the total number of second-hand properties for sale has fallen by 26 percent since before the pandemic. Commenting on these figures, the firm’s Managing Director, Marian Finnegan, said the dearth of properties for sale was reflected by the supply crisis in the rental sector. She went further to say that: “In the period preceding the Covid-19 crisis, Ireland’s housing market faced substantial challenges, most notably, the imbalance between supply and demand…The pandemic and subsequent geo-political discord have served to exacerbate this supply problem”. The Sherry FitzGerald report criticised the Government’s approach to the accommodation crisis in Budget 2023 – including the introduction of the concrete block levy – and for failing to address “the crux of the problem in the rental market, a lack of supply”.

In order to solve a problem, there must be some level of agreement between stakeholders about the problem in question. Politically, the housing conversation has moved too far to the left and right of the real issue, which is chronic lack of supply. For any real resolution to be reached, delivery must take centre stage in the housing conversation.

With offices in Dublin and Cork, Castlehaven Finance has provided development finance for both private and social housing to developers, builders and project owners across Ireland in excess of €1.7 billion (200+ loans) since 2014. Speak to the Castlehaven Finance team about your next commercial or residential development project https://www.castlehavenfinance.com/contact