Government needs to end reliance on private sector to deliver housing, planning expert claims – – Our News, Your Views

Government needs to end reliance on private sector to deliver housing, planning expert claims

The state needs to move away from its reliance on the private sector and instead invest public money to provide much-needed housing, a planning and housing expert has said.

Dr Lorcan Sirr, a senior lecturer in housing at Dublin University of Technology, said that the same conversations about housing have been going on for many years, but “policymakers don’t seem to have learnt”.

“It’s all the same stuff going on and on and on, over and over, repeatedly. In the 1920s, they were giving out about the cost of providing houses, which is what they’re still doing now. In the 1960s, there were politicians giving out about why we aren’t building more houses when we were building loads of offices and hotels, that’s the same debate that goes on today,” reports Breaking News.

He added: “A lot of that economic dogma is at the root of much of our housing problems. That ideology hasn’t worked, so we have no choice but to reappraise the way we have been delivering housing, and there seems to be a reluctance to do that,” reports Breaking News.

The issue of cost has come to the fore recently, especially with prices going up after the start of the war in Ukraine. However, Dr. Sirr said prices will fall and people will always need houses.

“In 1924, WT Cosgrave said building all the houses that we needed, 70,000 at the time, was too expensive. Ninety-nine years ago they were having the argument that housing was too expensive. It’s exactly the same thing 99 years later. You just have to build them. It’s not as if we’re short of money, policy is a question of priorities,” reports Breaking News.

Despite the problems, Dr. Sirr believes that the planning system is not the problem, adding: “Neither is people making observations, that is their right, that is democracy. What you have though is a series of poor legislation, which then leads to an awful lot of judicial reviews and the State losing nearly all of those judicial review because the legislation was poorly thought out,” reports Breaking News.

Although he admits that the planning system is partly delayed because the appropriate bodies, such as the local authorities and the Planning Board, are not processing cases quickly enough, the planning rules and how which system works is the problem, he believes.

And what’s the solution? Dr Sirr thinks it could lie in providing local authorities better autonomy “take the Department of Housing out of the equation”, but first they need the manpower. You need to staff ABP and you need to staff local authorities. The local authorities are where most of the planning action happens. They’re short something like over 540 planners, and they can’t get them. We have a huge shortage of planners, so if you want to speed up the planning system, the real trick is addressing where there’s the real bottleneck, which is in your council,” reports Breaking News.

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