Sun, May 5, 2019
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In the next few years we know that we will need to build about 35,000 houses in this country every year to meet demand.
In the next few years we know that we will need to build about 35,000 houses in this country every year to meet demand. In Cabra Glasnevin it is very likely that many of them will be on older industrial sites such as the bus lot in Grangegorman which Dublin Bus are planning to vacate. It is really important that those houses are affordable for average Dublin families and just as important that we make those places communities rather than just thousands of units of housing with few dedicated services or amenities. The evidence from recent planning permissions would imply that the council tends to think that city neighbourhoods can add in high numbers of new residents without building new schools, childcare facilities, healthcare centres and retail. Every new area deserves to be a place- with green space, kids' facilities and good transport options. I have been a specialist for the last 10 years in Sustainable Community and Development- my experience is that it is possible to get this stuff right from the outset.
With the cost of construction so high and the numbers of people being pushed into homelessness rising the strategy of local council to buy housing already occupied by renters, who will be evicted through sale, remains a good one. It means families who are settled in their community get to stay where they are and a landlord who wants to exit the market can do so. It also means the local authority gains an asset in the long term that many Dubliners can benefit from. However the current guidelines require occupants to be in the home over 5 years with no interruption before purchase is considered. In our housing sector this is a tall ask and a 2 year period of rental occupancy would be fairer and more achievable.
The city council faces a number of challenges when it comes to actually building the communities we need. The centralization of many planning decisions to the Department of Housing is unhelpful and undemocratic. However added to this is the nature of our planning system which means we also struggle to control what type/typology of housing is proposed on specific sites. That’s why, in the last few years, we have built more than 5,000 units of student housing in the city but far, far less than 1,000 homes for families. We know we need student housing but we also need a wide variety of accommodation and the units being built happen to be those that produce the highest profit for developers. The council should be able to make strategic planning decisions outside of the private developer process to regulate the type of housing we give the green light to in a way that considers where a site is and what the community needs.
The ‘Matts of Cabra’ site is a good example of this. Less than a hundred metres from two primary schools, the LUAS and in the heart of a cohesive, family orientated community that is literally crying out for family houses. What’s going to get built there……hundreds of shoe-box student rooms.