Housing supply

National planning regime is hurting housing supply in this country, property experts say

The government’s National Planning Framework (NPF) is making it harder to deliver much-needed housing and will make the situation worse unless it is removed, according to a new study by estate agents and estate advisers Savills.

and which could have delivered 100,000 homes was dezoned as a direct result of the NPF in Meath, Kildare and the rest of the greater Dublin area, says John Ring, Savills chief economist.

The development has been dezoned despite the need for new homes where it does not meet the priorities of balanced regional development under the FPN.

This national policy framework, which was published in 2019, favors the creation of regional centers rather than Dublin-centric development, and local authorities must align their plans with the national strategy.

Meath and Kildare have seen the highest number of sites dezoned.

“A better population balance between Dublin and the rest of the country is a laudable goal, but housing needs are greatest where the jobs are and a policy that ignores this is doomed to failure. Aspiration is not reality, Mr. Ring said.

Another key NPF goal of building on brownfield sites in and around central urban areas is also proving to be a barrier to activity, he said.

“There is greater demand for brownfield developments from buyers due to the location and developers want to build there, but the reality is that these sites are complex and expensive to develop, so they are not not built.”

The NPF was launched in 2019 by then Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and set goals for balanced regional development and the revitalization of urban centres. All local authorities are now bound by it when preparing their zoning policy for 2040.

“The framework is fundamentally flawed and, if left unchallenged, will only exacerbate the housing crisis, but it could be dropped with the stroke of a pen from Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien,” said Mr Ring.

If the NPF remains in place, 734 new homes will be built in Donegal in 2040 compared to 642 in Fingal, which covers the main suburban towns in north County Dublin, Mr Ring added.

He said many National Plan policies were introduced to prevent a repeat of the Celtic Tiger era, characterized by developer-led oversupply of homes in some remote locations and urban sprawl in what are now the suburban counties of Dublin.

However, he said that in the context of a housing crisis, targets should be achievable rather than ambitious.

“We need a floor rather than a ceiling for housing delivery. After a lost decade of housing delivery, we are producing just four homes per 1,000 people in Dublin, less than half of the nine per 1,000 recorded 25 years ago and only a quarter of the output of 2006.”

Savills Ireland says four main barriers exist within the NPF to housing delivery. These are:

:: Reduction of land essential for development.

:: Flawed population projection and forecasting models that envision growth split 50/50 between Dublin and the rest of the country and target housing supply accordingly.

:: Lack of flexibility in terms of goals and deadlines.

:: Rigid site development rules, including one that 40% of new housing delivery must take place on brownfield sites.

Mr Ring said basing planning on growth patterns of a 50/50 split between Dublin and the rest of the country is “flawed as they are unlikely to materialise”.

“By having a public policy perspective based on desires rather than reality, as we have now, we plan to fail,” he added.

“We can alleviate the current housing crisis and properly plan for Ireland’s housing needs, but these obstacles must first be addressed.”