House fig­ure row deep­ens as Cen­sus shows stock up 8k

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Chris­tian McCashin

A ROW over how many new homes are be­ing built deep­ened yes­ter­day af­ter it emerged Ire­land’s hous­ing stock grew by just 8,800, from 2011 to 2016.

Depart­ment of Hous­ing fig­ures claim there were 51,000 ‘house com­ple­tions’ over the five-year pe­riod.

But this num­ber has been crit­i­cised as it is based on the num­ber of homes be­ing con­nected to the elec­tric­ity net­work – rather ac­tual new builds. Crit­ics have pointed out that many of th­ese homes are sim­ply va­cant homes be­ing re­con­nected to the grid.

This claim was bol­stered yes­ter­day when Cen­sus fig­ures re­vealed only 33,436 new homes were ac­tu­ally built dur­ing this pe­riod, while the ac­tual stock of in­hab­it­able homes grew by a mere 8,800 or a tiny 0.4%. The small num­ber of new builds con­trasts starkly with the pre­vi­ous five years when 225,232 homes were built. The In­sti­tute of Pro­fes- sional Auc­tion­eers and Val­uers (IPAV) said the Cen­sus fig­ures were in ‘sharp con­trast’ to the depart­ment’s.

IPAV boss Pat Davitt said: ‘There is a dif­fer­ence of 17,893 be­tween the two fig­ures.’

There have been se­vere doubts about the Depart­ment of Hous­ing fig­ures for some time be­cause they are based on con­nec­tions to the ESB grid. That hous­ing pol­icy could be based on such sus­pect fig­ures is as­tound­ing.

‘The min­is­ter [for hous­ing Si­mon Coveney] and the Gov­ern­ment need to dis­pense with the depart­ment’s fig­ures as a true mea­sure of new builds and bring in a proper, trans­par­ent hous­ing reg­is­ter, and do so im­me­di­ately.’

A CSO spokesman said its hous­ing fig­ures did not count houses which have be­come derelict, or whose use was changed from res­i­den­tial.

‘Dwellings that have fallen out of the hous­ing stock don’t count. So, we’ve just had a net in­crease of 8,800 but, among the oc­cu­pied houses, around 34,000 in­di­cated their home was built from 2011 on­wards but it’s not com­pre­hen­sive be­cause you might have houses that were va­cant but we’ve no idea when they were built. It’s just a growth in hous­ing.’ Mean­while, Mr Coveney said his depart­ment’s pre­vi­ous an­nual tar­get of 25,000 new homes will have to in­crease. He said: ‘I think the fig­ure needs to be ac­tu­ally about 35,000 per year be­cause we’re see­ing pop­u­la­tion growth of about 40,000 and 50,000 at the mo­ment.’ He said de­vel­op­ers’ ‘will­ing­ness’ was there now and plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions for apart­ments in Dublin were ‘up 200%’.

The num­ber of builders dropped by al­most 180,000 in the first three months of 2013, to just 35% of the num­bers in 2007. But the in­dus­try recorded the fastest rate of jobs growth in the pe­riod since, gain­ing 39,200 jobs.

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