No decrease in housing prices according to DIT study

A comprehensive new housing study, the SCS Housing Study 2002, produced by the Dublin Institute of Technology, in association with the Society of Chartered Surveyors, finds that we are still facing a huge shortfall in the supply of new homes for Dublin. Only 10,000 new house completions are coming on stream as opposed to the 15,000 - 20,000 units needed per annum in the Dublin region. The result is that there will be no decrease in house prices generally in Dublin for the foreseeable future.

Funded by the SCS, the new study has been prepared by Dublin Institute of Technology, with the 12-month research programme carried out by its Faculty of the Built Environment. The DIT study team included Dr. Brendan Williams, Patrick Shiels and Brian Hughes.

Their research shows that present housing policies are causing continued constraints on housing supply, with a negative impact on general affordability of homes and the development of a sustainable urban settlement. The policies are providing housing outside major urban areas.

"The huge shortfall in new house completions is still an issue and this new study is our second 'wake-up call' to government", states SCS president John Daly. "As long as supply production levels remain at 10,000 units per annum, the annual demand in excess of 15,000 new homes will continue to support the existing unaffordable house prices in the Dublin market".

"So the Dublin housing demand will continue to relocate into the Mid-East and outer Leinster areas and we shall continue to see an outpouring of the Dublin workforce into counties Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth, with added road congestion, transport difficulties, adverse environmental affects and all the inherent commuter problems".

The SCS Housing Study 2002 shows that housing supply and affordability difficulties have resulted in a widening gap between house prices in the Dublin region and those of the rest of the country. It also finds that house prices are extremely high for a city of Dublin's size when compared to its European counterparts.

The study also suggests that the absence of affordable housing will impact further on the future economic competitiveness of the Greater Dublin Area. "Ireland has already slipped in world competitiveness ranking, partly due to inflation in which high house prices have played a significant part, and this government's current poor housing policies look like continuing to contribute to the downturn", said the SCS president.

The study points to the outward flow of both housing and population as not conducive to sustainable urban development - there must be a clear linkage between home location and employment to sustain urban development. The result is the decline of existing populations and under-utilisation of public resources as well as increasing elderly communities.

"The pattern of housing supply now emerging in the Greater Dublin Region clearly does not conform to the Strategic Planning Guidelines and some Local Authorities are doing little to help the situation", states Dr. Brendan Williams, DIT, a co-author of the SCS Housing Study.

urrent planning and development policies favour Greenfield development as a result of the inefficient operation of the development land market, contribute to shortage of building land and higher land values, extra costs in infrastructure and services, and thus ultimately to housing supply constraints and higher house prices.

"However, there is some good news" says John Daly, "with the study showing that in the short-term the potential is there to increase housing supply significantly if government were to take a few steps". The SCS Housing Study advocates:

densification of existing under-utilised urban space, including land left over after planning, derelict and institutional or state-owned land

identification of under-utilised land holdings in a broad range of public ownership for housing development purposes

release such land onto the market under the Strategic Development Zone planning process to ensure that it carries the 'ready-to-go' planning permission.

Dr. Brendan Williams states that it is evident that the planning and development system requires "a significant renewal" which would involve a major "shift away from what is currently an adversarial legal and statutory regulatory control system". He states that the traditional blueprint 'predict, zone and provide' planning process is outdated.

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