O’Flynn: Housing bounce impossible without developers

The head of O’Flynn Construction has warned that the housing market will not recover without the input of developers such as himself, and said the country’s planners need to come down from their "ivory towers".

Michael O’Flynn has also claimed the scale of criticism towards developers was “extraordinary”. “I think it was that people did not understand what we did, they did not understand the scale of some of our businesses, they perceived major borrowings as being somehow bad business,” he says.

“I can’t see this market recovering without developers. But there are people who don’t believe there is any role for developers. And when that crazy misunderstanding exists by a lot of people in this country, you are not going to solve the development situation.”

Mr O’Flynn makes the comments in a documentary to be aired on TV3 this evening.

Ireland, What’s Next: The Housing Crisis examines whether the country is in danger of inflating another property bubble and just how affordable housing is. Presenter Matt Cooper questions what is being done to address the low supply of housing stock and the value of the current efforts to tackle the social housing crisis.

One of the significant problems frequently identified in recent months has been the shortage of suitable properties coming on the market which meet current demand and that shortage inflates prices.

Sherry Fitzgerald economist Marian Finnegan tells the programme: “There are a lot of buy-to-let properties on the market, some executor sales representing about 15% of the product. There are bank repossessions which are typically buy-to-let, yet the dominant demand is for family homes, so with a critically tight supply and half of that stock not ideally suited to the purchaser, we are going to see price inflation.”

Mr O’Flynn also points a finger of blame at planners.

“I am very concerned that the planning lessons are not being learnt,” he says. “We are producing densities that are unsustainable in terms of what the market needs.

“There are parts of Dublin where you will not get the development the market needs, you will get development that the market doesn’t need so gone are the days that you would fund development that the market doesn’t need. This is one of the mistakes that was made.

“There were duplexes funded in country villages. It was mad. But they were built because the planners insisted on them so we have to get the planners out of the ivory towers. We have to get what is required where.

“Before anyone screams at me, we can’t have developer-led planning, but we have to have developer-involved planning and we have to have market-involved planning.”

Ireland, What’s Next: The Housing Crisis airs tonight at 9pm on TV3.


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