Eir­codes wanted at planning stage

Irish Examiner - - News - Caro­line O’Do­herty

Eir­codes may need to be is­sued to all po­ten­tial new dwellings from the mo­ment a planning ap­pli­ca­tion is sub­mit­ted for them even if they are not sub­se­quently built.

The Cen­tral Statis­tics Of­fice has rec­om­mended as­sign­ing the post codes from the very start in or­der to make track­ing and count­ing of new homes more ac­cu­rate.

The rec­om­men­da­tion is one of sev­eral made by the CSO as it pub­lished its first quar­terly new dwellings com­ple­tion statis­tics com­piled un­der a new count­ing method that shows fig­ures pre­vi­ously pub­lished by the Depart­ment of Hous­ing were sub­stan­tially over-stated.

Statis­ti­cians also want a tight­en­ing up of the Build­ing En­ergy Rat­ing pro­gramme which could help pro­vide an ac­cu­rate count of new homes if it wasn’t flouted by a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of self-build one-off homes.

They also want the State to ad­dress an anom­aly whereby some shared dwellings, such as stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion, are not in­cluded in the ESB do­mes­tic con­nec­tions data which can also give a good in­di­ca­tion of the num­ber of new homes built.

Kieran Cul­hane, CSO se­nior statis­ti­cian, said that the count­ing method now adopted was more ro­bust but it still had lim­i­ta­tions.

“This re­port is an im­por­tant first step,” he said. “Fur­ther en­gage­ment with key stake­hold­ers will be essential.”

The dis­par­ity be­tween the fig­ures pre­vi­ously pub­lished by the depart­ment and those now com­piled by the CSO ranged from a 25% over­count in 2017, when the depart­ment’s fig­ure was 19,271 but just 14,446 new dwellings were ac­tu­ally com­pleted, to a 50% over-count in 2014.

The dis­crep­an­cies were due to the depart­ment’s reliance on ESB con­nec­tions alone as an in­di­ca­tor of new dwellings com­pleted. That method ex­ag­ger­ated the num­ber of new dwellings in 2017 by 4,825.

More than half of those were not new but re­con­nec­tions, a quar­ter related to pre­vi­ously counted houses in ghost es­tates, and the rest to prop­er­ties con­nected to the do­mes­tic ESB sys­tem even though they were not dwellings.

Hous­ing Min­is­ter Eoghan Mur­phy ac­cepted the re­vised fig­ures but re­it­er­ated that 18,000 new homes be­came avail­able last year once the va­cant homes and ghost es­tates brought into use were counted.

Com­ple­tions have risen steadily over the past seven years — from 6,989 in 2011 to 14,446 in 2017 with last year’s out­put a dra­matic in­crease of 46% on 2016.

Three-quar­ters of the new homes com­pleted last year were in ur­ban ar­eas and Dublin and Cork had the most com­ple­tions over­all with 5,602 and 1,402 re­spec­tively. Meath and Kil­dare were next with 1,108 and 985, while Long­ford and Leitrim had the fewest, at 73 and 75.

The In­sti­tute of Pro­fes­sional Auc­tion­eers and Valuers said the fig­ures were long over­due but un­sur­pris­ing. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Pat Davitt said: “What was well known is now of­fi­cially known.

“Now that we have fig­ures upon which we can rely, de­ci­sion-mak­ers need to get on with cut­ting the im­ped­i­ments to home build­ing.”

The high cost of fi­nance for builders and de­vel­op­ers was one such im­ped­i­ment, said Mr Davitt.

Pic­ture: Mark St­ed­man

Abbey The­atre di­rec­tors Gra­ham McLaren, left, and Neil Mur­ray, right, along with Jen Cop­pinger, head of pro­duc­ing at the the­atre, with the Abbey’s just an­nounced Young Cu­ra­tors: Luke Casserly (Long­ford), Al­lie Whe­lan (Kil­dare), Martha Knight (Dublin), Aoife Nu­gent (Antrim), and CN Smith (Louth). The quin­tet will at­tend work at var­i­ous Ir­ish fes­ti­vals, start­ing with Cork Mid­sum­mer over the next week, be­fore pro­gram­ming a two-week Young Cu­ra­tors fes­ti­val at the Abbey in 2019.

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