Developer offers solution to empty homes problem

SOLUTIONS to ghost estates and empty buildings: a developer’s perspective.

In his presentation yesterday to the Irish Planning Institute’s national conference in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Bill Nowlan, chief executive of independent property advisory WK Nowlan and Associates, said the number of developers who are “capable of writing a cheque are few and far between”.

He said the developer/supply chain model had collapsed, “most developers have gone bust” or were “holding on by the fingernails”.

Mr Nowlan said he lived in a small town in Co Kildare, where up to 2004/5, those engaged in development were “professional developers,” but subsequently, the “butcher, baker and candlestick maker” had got in on the act.

These amateur developers now “wished the whole thing would go away”, he said.

Mr Nowlan said the developer who had been out front in dealing with the problem of empty houses and unfinished estates was “in reality, a puppet for the bank”, and that people picketing the offices of these developers should in fact be picketing the bank.

Mr Nowlan said there were solutions to the oversupply problem, such the Government issuing land bonds to housing associations. He said if a housing association acquired 1,000 units at €75,000 each and the agency issued 20-year Government-backed land bonds at 4.5%, the cost to the housing agency would be €63 per house per week, or €120 adding in administration costs.

Mr Nowlan said planners should not get involved, that it was a normal market process that would correct itself and that it was “a question of keeping the roof on the building and property [sector] maintained”.

More in this section