Billions to be invested in homes for sale and rent in Ireland

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Some €200 million it to be put into an Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund in Ireland aimed at opening up large sites in areas where people need homes. This is to relieve critical infrastructural blockages to allow for the delivery of homes on key sites and to improve the economic viability and purchaser affordability of new housing projects and deliver 20,000 new homes by 2020. The Irish Government has also announced under its Housing Action Plan that €5.35 billion will be allocated to the development of social housing with the aim of building 47,000 more social housing units by 2021. There will also be changes to planning to allow large scale residential development planning applications to be fast tracked. The Government said it will legislate to allow for larger housing development applications of 100 plus units to be made directly to An Bord Pleanala, the country’s independent planning body. An Bord Pleanala is also set to prioritise the determination of all planning appeals for large scale developments. This is to be done within an 18 to 20 week period and the roll-out of e-planning is also being looked at. The action plan also includes increasing the supply of home to rent and support for a stable rental sector. A national policy for appropriate on and off-campus accommodation for students will also be developed. The Housing Agency will be allocated €70 million to acquire suitable portfolios of vacant properties to be let under a national vacant housing reuse strategy. A register of vacant properties across the country will be drawn up and the planning rules for change of use of vacant commercial units to a residential units will be reviewed. However, according to the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) critical skills shortages across all sectors of the housing market in Ireland will urgently need to be addressed to deliver the scale of housing delivery needed. Claire Solon, SCSI president, said that a National body with real authority and mandate is needed not just for housing, but also for national infrastructural planning. ‘It’s clear from the Action Plan that in several areas, it’s the need for projects like road completions, or water and drainage schemes that are actually preventing the delivery of housing,’ she pointed out. ‘The industry has shown itself be to resourceful following many difficult years, but there needs to be significant investment now to address the skills shortage in all sectors, professional, technical and trades,’ she explained. ‘We will be asking the Minister of Finance to specifically resource our sector in the upcoming Budget for training of apprentices, graduates and to help encourage workers from other sectors to transfer to construction and property roles. The industry plays a vital role in our economy and after many years of underinvestment, negative reporting and poor output, it needs radical intervention to upscale and deliver what could be one of the most important development stages in the history of our country,’ she added. The SCSI also believes… Taylor Scott International

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