New Planning Bill is a missed opportunity and will slow down house building activity – CIF

The new planning bill is a missed opportunity to develop a sustainable supply of social housing, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).  

The CIF also said that the Bill will add to the cost of house building at a time when builders were finding it difficult to get projects off the ground and make it more difficult to attract finance for housing developments. These factors will slow down the delivery of much needed new houses.  

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They also described the projections by the Department of the Environment that 4,000 social housing units would be built by 2020 under the new measures as “pie in the sky”.

“The Government supposedly wants to see more houses being built, but this new legislation is going to slow down building activity,” said CIF Director General Tom Parlon. “It’s going to add to the cost of building at a time when many builders are struggling to get sustainable housing projects off the ground.  The bankability of projects that otherwise may have proceeded will now be challenged.  The overall impact will be to slow down the delivery of new houses.

“The Part V revisions are tinkering with a system that is not working.  The building of new housing can not be the driving force behind the provision of social housing.  Have we not seen over recent years how short sighted that system is?  It has delivered little if any social housing because there has been very little house building taking place.

“The plan places the responsibility for social housing on the vagaries of house building activity.  If little house building takes place in the future then it follows that little social housing will be provided.  10% of a small number is an even smaller number.  This is a missed opportunity as the Government could have put in a much more progressive system which would not see social housing provision collapse if there are few new developments built.

“Part V has also proven to be a bureaucratic nightmare in the delivery of social housing.  This Bill will only exacerbate that problem.  If a builder wants to build 15 houses they will now be required to provide one and half sites for social housing.  What use is half a site?  Each housing project is different and each will require a different solution under this legislation.  That’s going to lead to further delays.

“The vacant site levy is also excessive and will also add to the costs that are ultimately passed on to purchasers of newly built properties. Reasonable exemptions will have to be provided for projects which can not be advanced for genuine reasons relating to issues like marketability, infrastructure deficits, planning and bankability.  Otherwise you could see more construction companies forced out of business.

“As for the projections that this legislation will create 4,000 social housing units by 2020, that is pie in the sky.  The only way you’ll see that number created under this plan is if the Minister decides to build them himself.

“The drafting of this legislation could have done so much to encourage house building activity at a time when new houses are needed. Instead this plan will delay building, add to the cost of building and buying a house, add to the bureaucratic requirements, while making it more difficult to secure development loans.  Basically all this Bill will achieve is making a bad system worse,” Mr. Parlon concluded.

www.cif.ie