Fr Peter McVerry: 'Builders and developers decide where and what is going to be built'

Fr Peter McVerry: 'Builders and developers decide where and what is going to be built'

The Government needs to step in to ensure local authorities integrate social housing into large developments says veteran campaigner for the homeless, Fr Peter McVerry.

“Local authorities should be required to get some houses in large developments,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“There should be some other way of paying so there is no huge investment upfront.”

He was commenting following the news that Dublin City Council has opted not to acquire units for social housing at three new docklands developments.

The council has instead decided to acquire cheaper units at alternative sites in the city as its plans for social integration continue to be frustrated by premium docklands prices.

Under planning laws, the council is entitled to acquire 10% of residential units at new developments in the city centre for social housing.

But despite its stated preference for acquiring units on site, the council has increasingly come to agreements with developers to acquire homes at alternative locations rather than pay escalating docklands prices.

Legislation allows councils to acquire units on site or lease or acquire them off site. And with prices in the upper six figures for docklands apartments, the council has looked for better value by buying elsewhere.

Fr McVerry said that he feared such a decision by the council will lead to the area becoming ‘gentrified’ with high end residential and commercial units and no social integration.

The cost of housing has gone up 70% since 2012 while the cost of labour and building materials has only gone up seven per cent. Granted there is the extra cost of land, but in this case the land was owned by the State, they could have built 2,500 social houses on it.

Fr McVerry added that he did not think there was any planning for the future. “The Government has lost control. Builders and developers decide where and what is going to be built.”

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