Partner, Fidelma McManus, recently wrote an article for Council Review Magazine on Project Ireland 2040. Check out the article by picking up a copy of the magazine or reading the below.

Tackling the Housing Crisis at the heart of the Project Ireland 2040

The Irish Government recently introduced Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s vision for capital expenditure in Ireland over the next twenty years. One of the core elements of this project is the need to increase the numbers of social and affordable housing. Aside from the challenges faced with the current housing shortage, it is anticipated that the population will reach 6 million by 2040, resulting in a requirement for an additional 550,000 homes.

Growth

Under Project Ireland 2040, €14.5 billion will be invested in housing and urban development over the next ten years. The Government has highlighted the need to focus this expenditure in existing urban areas which are already supported by jobs, services and amenities. The Government aims to provide up to 50% of the additional housing from vacant or under-utilised parcels of land in urban areas and a further 30% in existing built-up areas. Given the unprecedented housing crisis experienced in Ireland, it is positive that the Government has identified real measures which aim to provide for sustainable long-lasting communities, to benefit all of Ireland. Hopefully, the measures identified in Project Ireland 2040 will be incorporated in a structured fashion to prevent urban sprawl and avoid housing developments with insufficient infrastructure and amenities.

Key measures to address the housing crisis:

  • Increase in the annual number of homes built annually – one priority of Project Ireland 2040 is to increase the overall housing supply to a baseline level of 25,000 homes a year by 2020 in order to address future housing needs and the housing deficit built up since 2010. The aim is to increase this to a level of 30,000 to 35,000 annually up to 2027.
  • Provision of 112,000 social housing units by 2027 – over €4.2 billion will be invested between 2018 and 2021 to support the delivery of 40,000 new social housing units for those on housing waiting lists. It is hoped to achieve this through a number of initiatives including direct build by the local authority, refurbishment of empty homes, and supply of units through housing bodies. To meet these aims, a collaborative approach is needed between Local Authorities, NAMA, NTMA, Approved Housing Bodies, Housing Finance Agency and the Housing Agency. It is also intended to create dedicated initiatives within the Department of Planning and Local Government to drive this process and target residentially zoned lands which have not yet been developed.

  • Establishment of the National Regeneration and Development Agency – the Government has acknowledged that a more strategic approach is needed to manage the State’s own lands. A new agency will be established to work with the local authorities, the Office of Public Works and other relevant departments in identifying and releasing State lands suitable for housing development. This is a welcome (and long overdue) acknowledgement, given the amount of state-owned land in central locations.

  • Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF)under the current LIHAF, over 30 projects have been approved in 14 local authorities identifying lands as suitable for the supply of new homes. A second phase of LIHAF will be provided with the aim to increase the supply of mixed-tenure homes on private and state owned lands.

  • New Funds - €2 billion will be assigned to an Urban Regeneration and Development Fund and €1 billion for a Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

Future of social and affordable housing

Whilst some critics may suggest that these measures are aspirational only, there is ongoing significant investment in social housing across the entire country. This comprises second hand homes and turnkey developments as well as the government backing funding of stage payment developments in both rural and urban locations. It is hoped that lessons will be learnt from the past mistakes, which have led to the current housing crisis, and that Project Ireland 2040 will ultimately provide for a long term sustainable solution to the housing crisis.