Housing action plan: ‘25,000 new builds a year between now and 2020’

Approximately 25,000 new houses will be built every year between now and 2020, according to the Government’s housing action plan.

The Rebuilding Ireland plan was published yesterday by Simon Coveney, Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government.

Under the plan, which is outlined in five pillars, €5.35bn will be made available for social housing.

The extra commitment of €2.2bn aims to deliver 47,000 social housing units by 2021.

Social housing, developed on this scale, has not been undertaken in Ireland for decades.

Mr Coveney yesterday said that in his home city of Cork, social housing was built on one side of the river and private housing on the other side.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of the Government’s Housing Action Plan. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins
Housing Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of the Government’s Housing Action Plan. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

He stated that this separation is not going to continue in Irish society and that the new plan will lead to far more integrated communities.

“I think the biggest new idea in this whole plan, apart from money and house delivery and all the rest of it, is an ambition to create mixed-tenure developments,” he said.

“We built a lot of social housing in the past in Ireland, although not recently. They have been built on acres and acres of social housing estates and we have cities like mine where almost all of the social housing is built on one side of the river and all the private housing is built on the other, virtually.

“That is not a model we are going to follow here. We are going to build and acquire and refurbish nearly 50,000 social housing units in the next six years but we are going to make sure they are integrated within private housing estates, within mixed developments and we are going to strategically use publicly owned land banks to ensure that that happens.

“So many of the publicly-owned land banks that we do have will probably have 50% private housing on them, but the other 50% might be 20% affordable housing and maybe 30% social housing and you’re going to drive into these estates and you’re not going to be able to spot the difference between what’s social housing and what’s private.”

Mr Coveney said the plan to develop mixed-tenure housing estates will lead to more diverse communities in Ireland.

“That is how we need to integrate and create diverse, vibrant communities with different income levels and different needs in terms of support from the State and in doing that tackle the stigma that some people still hold in relation to social housing,” said Mr Coveney.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also spoke at the unveiling of the plan yesterday.

He said that secure housing is fundamental to a person’s sense of safety in the world and it was a value he and the Government are deeply committed to.

“There is nothing more fundamental to a sense of security in the world than having a home and being safe within that home,” said Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach acknowledged the many ways in which the economic crash of 2008 has affected that sense of security a person finds in a home.

“The economic turmoil in this country in recent years has resulted in a situation where we are not building a sufficient number of houses, where those who wish to buy their first home struggle to afford that, where there is insufficient social housing for those who need to access it, where too many people find themselves homeless and in entirely inappropriate accommodation, where pressures in the rental sector have driven rents beyond what many people can reasonably afford, and where the shadow of deep, unresolved mortgage arrears hangs over people’s lives,” said Mr Kenny.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe also spoke at the launch of the national housing plan yesterday.

“Our immediate focus will be on tackling the homelessness in Dublin,” said Mr Donohoe.

“We want to put an end to families living in emergency hotel and B&B accommodation.”

Addressing homelessness is pillar one of the plan and it contains 21 actions to eradicate it.

“We are setting a pretty bold ambition for this time next year to have no reliance on hotel accommodation and B&B accommodation for emergency accommodation for families and that will be challenging,” said Mr Coveney.

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