Planning official denies over supply of homes

THE top planning official in Cork city has rejected claims of a massive oversupply of houses in the city.

Kevin Terry, the director of services in the Planning and Development Directorate of Cork City Council, questioned the methodology used in a report from the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA), and said he views its claims on the city as “highly suspect”.

In a major report on ghost estates launched on Thursday, NIRSA called for an independent review of the operation of the planning system during the Celtic Tiger years to consider fully its role in the creation of the property bubble.

Its report said house prices have fallen to 2002 levels and that Cork city and some rural counties have a massive oversupply of development land which is likely to result in further price falls.

It suggested a potential oversupply of houses in Cork city of over 3,600.

“The inquiry should not take the form of a witch hunt or a blame game, but rather constitute a systemic review of how the planning system failed to counter and control the excesses of the boom and provide a more stable and sustainable pattern of development,” NIRSA said.

Its analysis suggests there is little need for housing development in the state in the immediate future beyond selected social housing provision.

“This is not to say that this is no requirement for construction, however,” the report said.

But Mr Terry questioned the model used by NIRSA to arrive at its figures for Cork city.

“The model says that between April 2006 and December 2009 there were 3,579 houses built in Cork city,” he said.

“It says that there is a potential oversupply of 3,605. It is effectively saying that no houses should be built in Cork city.

“Using the obsolescence figures of the model for the city of 1,257 units over the period – to follow the model to its conclusion there would be a decline in the housing stock in the city each year going forward – an unsustainable situation.”

Mr Terry said it appears as if the model used by NIRSA takes no account of government policy of higher densities in urban areas, the National Spatial Strategy, sustainable development or the Gateway Policy.

The city’s population today stands at 119,000 people and Mr Terry pointed out that the recently adopted Regional Planning Guidelines, which are fully based on government spatial policy, envisages an increased population in the city to 150,000 by the year 2022.

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