Will it work?

Ex­pert eval­u­a­tion

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW -

Each of the pro­pos­als in this “Cap­i­tal Ideas” se­ries has been put to a group of three ex­perts for an ini­tial “back of an en­ve­lope” eval­u­a­tion. They are: Frances Ruane, for­mer di­rec­tor of the Eco­nomic and So­cial Re­search In­sti­tute; Caro­line Spil­lane, di­rec­tor gen­eral of En­gi­neers Ire­land; and Cliff Tay­lor, Ir­ish Times eco­nom­ics colum­nist.

Frances Ruane

We have failed to ad­dress hous­ing needs in Dublin for a long time, and not just re­cently with the in­crease in home­less­ness. His­tor­i­cally, plan­ning has failed to link hous­ing prop­erly with other ser­vices.

The idea of an ar­chi­tec­tural com­pe­ti­tion for ideas for mod­ern hous­ing would be in­valu­able es­pe­cially as we have not built much by way of ur­ban hous­ing in re­cent years. We need to start with “place de­sign” and fol­low that with “home de­sign”.

Many cities are be­ing chal­lenged by ur­ban pop­u­la­tion growth and Dublin could take ad­van­tage of be­ing a late mover to look at how other mod­els might work. We need to look at a range of mod­els. Where there is pub­lic hous­ing owned by the city, re­sources must be avail­able lo­cally to main­tain the prop­er­ties and sup­port the com­mu­ni­ties who move into these new dwellings. While this will in­crease costs, it will en­sure more sus­tain­abil­ity long-term.

Caro­line Spil­lane

Land avail­abil­ity and cost are ma­jor fea­tures of our hous­ing cri­sis. Ur­ban land re­de­vel­op­ment of­fers fan­tas­tic po­ten­tial to re­ju­ve­nate ar­eas of our towns and cities.

A new agency, the Land Devel­op­ment Agency, has been pro­vided with ¤1.25 bil­lion in cap­i­tal fund­ing to man­age State-owned lands, de­velop homes and re­gen­er­ate un­der-utilised sites. The agency will also buy pri­vate land ad­join­ing ex­ist­ing prime sites held by State and semi-State or­gan­i­sa­tions to as­sem­ble land hold­ings for hous­ing. The agency is to un­lock the State-owned sites for pri­vate devel­op­ment to fa­cil­i­tate the con­struc­tion of 150,000 homes by 2040. Un­der the plan, de­vel­op­ers will have to agree to re­quire­ments such as 30 per cent af­ford­able hous­ing and 10 per cent so­cial hous­ing.

There are sev­eral suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional ex­am­ples of the ac­tive man­age­ment of pub­lic land. Trans­port for Lon­don has ma­jorly ex­panded its ca­pac­ity in land value cap­ture and prop­erty devel­op­ment. It is now a key ac­tor in ur­ban devel­op­ment and af­ford­able hous­ing sup­ply in Lon­don, form­ing strate­gic part­ner­ships to de­velop ar­eas around its trans­port hubs, in­clud­ing af­ford­able hous­ing, com­mer­cial, re­tail and parks.

The Land Devel­op­ment Agency could trans­form whole dis­tricts of our cities, but it must be well-staffed with the nec­es­sary pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence, must max­imise the pub­lic good and achieve value-for-money.

Cliff Tay­lor

There is no doubt that one of the out­comes of the hous­ing cri­sis will be more pub­lic hous­ing. The cur­rent mix of pri­vate, lo­cal au­thor­ity and var­i­ous part­ner­ship mod­els just isn’t pro­vid­ing enough. And if we are go­ing to build, why in­deed not do it prop­erly.

The State through var­i­ous arms will spend bil­lions on hous­ing in the com­ing years. Al­most ¤1.9 bil­lion is be­ing set aside for pub­lic hous­ing alone in 2019, and other bud­get head­ings are also di­rected at hous­ing. At the mo­ment a lot of the pub­lic hous­ing bud­get is sup­port­ing peo­ple liv­ing in pri­vate ac­com­mo­da­tion. Us­ing pub­lic money and lands to build houses could pro­vide a bet­ter so­lu­tion.

Hous­ing is the top pri­or­ity for so­cial and eco­nomic rea­sons. If this is not tack­led it will limit fu­ture in­vest­ment and growth as busi­nesses re­alise em­ploy­ees can’t af­ford to rent or buy.

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