Poolbeg housing: It is just too important to get it wrong again

The expeditious provision of much-needed housing is too important to get wrong.

One would have thought that the Government would have learned from the Irish Water debacle.

After all, it lost the previous coalition its huge Dáil majority, and virtually decimated Labour, their partners in government.

Obviously, it has still not learned the importance of proper preparation being necessary to prevent poor performance.

The Government had no sooner announced its plans to fast track the development of 3,000 homes in parts of the Poolbeg Peninsula area of Dublin, when up crop environmental reports regarding the former Irish Glass Bottle manufacturing site and extensive lands used for about 30 years as a key tip head for Dublin municipal waste.

These reports by the Irish Examiner seriously question the Government’s ability to build homes on these lands anytime soon and could also have considerable cost implications, even if and when, the proposed houses are built.

What has not been taken on board is that environmental problems could occur in an area that was a former municipal dump.

The reports make clear that no one knows for sure what has been dumped there in the past.

Even the extent of the dumping across the peninsula remains unclear.

One must seriously wonder about the capabilities of some of the those who run Government and the expensive ‘advisers’ who supposedly support them.

That they did not read several reports from 1997 and 2008, including one from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or that were not aware of the reports makes you wonder what is going on.

Surely, local authorities and relevant government departments must have been aware of the existence of these reports and their contents? Were they simply ignored like so many other expensive reports that were completed?

As we all know, housing is one of the biggest issues at the moment. It’s a problem that is not going to go away anytime soon.

Sure, we built tens of thousands of houses during the Celtic Tiger years, but unfortunately very many of those were in the wrong places.

Ghost estates in some areas were a legacy of bad planning during the boom years. There is a massive shortage of homes in the urban areas where they are most needed.

That is understandable as our economy has been increasingly centralised and focused on Dublin and east Leinster, and some other urban pockets.

During the boom years, people were commuting up to 100 miles from their place of work.

The reasons were mainly because people had to live far away from their places of work and where they could afford to live.

It’s no longer realistic to expect people to commute from tens of miles on a daily basis. It’s too expensive, dangerous and a gross waste of potentially productive hours.

We should not, of course, forget the impact on family life, and on the possible effects on bringing up children.

As far as the attraction of foreign direct investment is involved, we have been fighting for, and securing large amounts of projects, for a very long time.

Two of the main attractions are those of a low 12.5% corporation tax rate and the availability of training and willing workers.

In the last few days, it was announced that 40% of IDA visits in the first three months of the year by potential investors were focused on Dublin. In 2015, 47% of all jobs created by IDA-sponsored companies were in the Dublin area.

It would be criminal, were we now to start losing out to other European locations because these potential new companies cannot attract the right employees because they can find nowhere to live at a price they can afford.

Local and central Government really needs to get up to speed on this one.

With any luck, the housing minister’s initiative to ensure that more houses are built will deliver.

However, the key point is that getting it right from the planning stage and ensuring the most suitable sites for building homes is essential.

There can be no more room for bad and costly planning.

That includes building homes on flood plains and building homes, with great fanfare, on lands that may require costly remediation works, such as at Poolbeg.

Ignoring the reports will simply create other problems in the long term for the country.


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