Warning development must also occur outside Dublin as Waterford named Ireland's most affordable city

Warning development must also occur outside Dublin as Waterford named Ireland's most affordable city

Waterford is now the only city in the country that is affordable to live in, according to the interim chair of the Land Development Agency (LDA).

John Moran told attendees at the Lisney Outlook 2020 event in Dublin this morning that the city with the most affordable housing was Waterford and that Ireland could face "political instability" if all the development is concentrated in Dublin, leaving other counties behind.

He said the potential for political instability was fuelled by reactionary politics with pressure on the government to respond to the demands of the most populated part of the country.

As former secretary-general of the Department of Finance, Mr Moran is credited with being one of the architects of Ireland's recovery in the wake of the Troika bailout.

At the event, he also spoke about the need for higher density neighbourhoods if Ireland is to have any hope of catering for the projected increase of one million people by 2040.

"I don't think the penny has dropped that we will have an extra one million people in the next 20 years," Mr Moran said.

This would require a "ramping up" of housebuilding to 7,000 to 8,000 units per annum.

"Five, six, seven-storey apartments is what we need to start thinking about, we don't necessarily need 20-storeys," he said.

People were going to have to move on from their traditional notion of a house, he said and were also going to have to start thinking about moving away from cars.

It was his "personal view" that "we have to talk about not having vehicles at all", particularly in cities where there were alternate public transport options.

"We shouldn't have cars if we live in Ranelagh," he said. "If you live near a railway station, you don't need a car."

Mr Moran, a social entrepreneur and founder of thought leadership consultancy RHH International, said he believed the government's decision to set up the LDA in 2018 in response to the housing crisis "will probably have more of an impact on Ireland than the decision to set up the ESB."

The agency is tasked with managing state lands in a way that boosts housing supply and delivers affordable housing, as well as building strategic landbanks to reduce volatility in land values. 

Its target is to build 150,000 homes by 2040.

In October, LDA CEO John Coleman told the Oireachtas Housing Committee that they were focusing on eight sites in the short term, with teams appointed to advance planning applications for three sites, including St Kevin's Hospital in Cork city "which should yield approximately 200 homes".

Mr Coleman said he expected construction to start "in late 2020" subject to the approval of the planning authority".

Also addressing the Outlook 2020 Launch was Duncan Lyster, Lisney managing director who spoke about the growing influence of environmental considerations on property investment decisions.

"For the first time, people power may force changes in advance of legislative changes," he said.

"Twelve months ago, we didn't know who Greta Thunberg was. We mightn't agree with what she says or how she says it, but it is clear the green movement is overtaking lawmakers," Mr Lyster said.

The greening of properties is in progress. Under EU requirements, Ireland has an obligation to ensure that all new building completions and properties that have undergone major renovations meet what is called the NZEB standard (Nearly Zero Energy Buildings/A2 BER for new homes and B2 for renovated homes) by December 31 2020.

The government has conceded this will add 4 per cent to construction costs. Lisney predicts potential buyers will be more likely to choose a new home in the coming years, due to turnkey condition, tax incentives and help-to-buy schemes, as the cost of renovating second-hand homes increases.

Lisney said such a trend "can already be seen in sales data, where new homes are continually making up a greater proportion of total market sales".

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