SCSI says removal of barriers is key to success of ‘Housing for All’

“Planning delays, procurement issues, infrastructure and skills shortages all need to be resolved”

While giving a broad welcome to the ambitions outlined in Housing for All, the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) said its successful implementation would depend on the removal of several key barriers to housing delivery.

SCSI President, TJ Cronin said a new sense of urgency and spirit of collaboration was required if those barriers are to be removed and we are to avoid repeating the mistakes of previous housing plans.

We need to see an immediate focus on removing the myriad barriers which exist. Planning delays, procurement issues, access to critical infrastructure, including water as well as labour and skills shortages all need individual targets and plans to meet overall goals. . These are the issues which frustrate and ultimately delay housing delivery, and which make it such a challenge for our citizens to secure affordable homes.”

These system failures will not be addressed by increasing budgets alone, but rather by putting measured and effective policies in place. That’s why we need increased collaboration between the private and public sectors and indeed between different government departments.”

Housing takes time and considerable investment. Certainty and confidence in the sector are essential if we are to attract that investment. Following several recent regulatory and legislative changes it is imperative that this plan is now allowed to deliver on its considerable potential” he said.

Overhaul of Planning System will be critical

The SCSI believes an upcoming overhaul of the planning process will be critical to the success of Housing for All.

The Government has committed to terminating the Strategic Housing Development planning model in February 2022 and to replacing it with new streamlined arrangements for residential developments.

Recent analysis by the SCSI found that a delay of a year to a housing development caused by judicial reviews (JRs) can add at least €8,000 to €12,000 to the cost of each new house.

While stressing how important it is that the right to legal redress for all is maintained, the SCSI said it was also important that the impact of JRs on housing, especially the cost of delays, is fully understood.

SCSI CEO Shirley Coulter says at a time of rising material costs, it was particularly important to do everything possible to cut out delays and increase efficiency.

That is why it is so important that the Government achieves the correct balance in the new streamlined planning process. Strengthening the ‘societal contract’ between local authorities, the community and An Bord Pleanála on the one hand while establishing mechanisms which facilitate the resolution of appeals in a more efficient and cost-effective manner on the other.”

Restoring vacant or derelict buildings is something we strongly support, and we welcome the measures announced in today’s plan. From a planning and sustainability perspective it makes perfect sense. However renovating buildings in line with new building regulations, particularly fire and accessibility regulations can be prohibitively expensive and that very often is the reason they remain vacant.”

Equally not all land may be suitable for development. If, for example, there is no access to essential infrastructure such as water, this must be considered before applying potentially punitive measures which may challenge the viability of future development. This is why the SCSI is calling for the establishment of a Land Register which could be used to provide greater transparency on land suitability, availability and cost” she concluded.

Article Published: 03/09/2021