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New development Initiative from Dublin City Council
by Ruth Baily
Dublin City Council (DCC) is seeking a group of owner occupiers to come together to build a multi unit dwelling on a vacant site on Fishamble street in the heart of the city centre. The idea is to show that city living is both possible and desirable for families. The council will sell the vacant land to the group for the knock down price of €150,000 and allow the group to develop a scheme to include a ground floor commercial unit with apartments and duplexes above of various sizes to specifically suit the requirements of each owner in the group’s particular needs. No parking will be allowed and the owners must live in the units for a minimum of 10 years or be subject to a claw back clause.
While this policy has the capacity to provide some imaginative and innovative units along with generating welcome construction activity, this will not be enough to fix the supply problem being felt across Dublin and its environs. Prices are rising on a monthly basis driven by the supply shortage. In Dublin there is chronic shortage of family homes. Increased supply is the only answer to the problem, it is imperative to the quickly increase the supply of family homes to the market both in the city and the suburbs.
In order to increase supply there are several barriers which must be overcome. DCC could be instrumental in helping with this. Currently planning permission exists for 30,000 units across Dublin; however 21,000 of these are for apartments, which, other than in very specific areas, is not what the market requires. It should be possible to find some kind of mechanism to allow developers who hold permission for apartments to convert this permission to housing in the appropriate areas without having to go through the entire planning process again.
Development levies currently charged by local authorities are still at boom time levels. This adds considerable cost to any project and these need to be looked at urgently and recalibrated to better reflect the current economic environment.
If both of these items were looked at as a matter of urgency, it would allow construction companies to get building again and help to increase the supply of housing in the Dublin region. While the project on Fishamble Street will be interesting, it will not address the current supply crisis in either the short or medium term.