Resolving housing crisis: Are planning shortcuts wise?

Figures showing that house prices have jumped by between 11% and 17% in Cork, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford over the last year underline the scale of the housing crisis and how very difficult it will be to resolve. 

This crisis is a symptom of many things, everything from poor planning and governance, a naive over-reliance on an indifferent, unreliable market and the very dangerous and widening gap between those who cannot afford the basics of life and those who seem to control ever greater proportions of the world’s wealth.

The crisis has prompted Government to initiate measures one of which is believed to be a request from Housing Minister Simon Coveney for an additional €2bn on top of €3bn earmarked to build 50,000 social housing units over five years.

Another measure apparently under consideration is that local authorities might lose their planning oversight role in developments of 150 or more houses. Mr Coveney is understood to have tabled a proposal to cabinet aimed at speeding the process by passing applications for these developments straight to An Bord Pleanála. This man-the-pumps measure would be far more attractive if we had not a catastrophic history with weak if not ineffective building regulation — a record that has imposed considerable burdens on the public purse. Would it not be better to employ more planners and use technology to spread the planning administration among all local authorities around the country?


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