BUDGET 2016: ‘Nama plan won’t solve housing crisis’

Developer Michael O’Flynn believes Nama’s €4.5bn 20,000 residential unit building programme announced in the budget won’t solve Ireland’s housing shortage.

Mr O’Flynn, who chairs the Cork-based O’Flynn Group, one of the country’s largest development firms, expressed disappointment the budget didn’t contain any measures to deal with the cost and viability of house building.

“I am disappointed that Vat and development charges, and even some of the regulatory cost issues, haven’t been addressed,” he said.

“There seems to be a huge desire to address the housing crisis, but there were no measures introduced in the budget to solve it.”

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced details on Tuesday of Nama’s new plan to deliver 20,000 residential units before the end of 2020.

He said 90% will be delivered in the greater Dublin area — Wicklow, Meath, and Kildare — and about 75% of these units will be houses, mainly starter homes.

He said Nama will work with developers to achieve the target on time, which means delivering an average 80 new housing units every week across some 100 active sites.

Nama said achieving the 20,000-unit target will be very challenging, that it will need to double the number of its active sites from 40 to 100, and will need to increase its output of houses/apartments from 30 per week at present to 80 a week.

Nama said it will work with developers with which it has links, and with developers with which it has no links, in order to deliver the target. But Mr O’Flynn, who has exited Nama, said the initiative raises serious questions about how developers and prospective home-buyers will be resourced or financed. “That detail is unknown,” he said. “Housing being produced is good news, but it has to be viable, and fundable.”

Mr O’Flynn, who is currently building residential units in Lucan, said the private housing market is viable in the greater Dublin area and in parts of Cork.

But he said the recent Central Bank restrictions on mortgages are a good idea only if there is a supply of housing, and a viable market.

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