European developers sought for council housing projects
European construction firms are being encouraged to bid on council housing developments in an effort to tackle the housing crisis.
It is also hoped that construction firms from Poland to Latvia and from Spain to Italy will help achieve maximum budgetary efficiency in the delivery of housing and also promote both competition and cost-savings.
Ireland needs 250,000-plus new homes after construction collapsed from 90,000 homes a year in 2005 to just 5,000 in 2010 after the crash.
The Government is committed to boosting construction rates to 25,000 a year, but experts warned it would take years to tackle the housing waiting list.
Under a pioneering new housing strategy in Cork, EU construction firms have been invited to tender on an ambitious partnership scheme to develop homes on greenfield and brownfield sites.
It is understood more than 1,000 homes are involved in the project - more than 500 in Cork city and a further 500 in strategic towns around Cork county.
Lord Mayor of Cork Chris O'Leary said it was an important first step in tackling Ireland's housing crisis and offering hope to people stranded for years on housing waiting lists.
"This is very much a good news story," he said.
"We need to get council houses built so we can begin the vital job of reducing and eliminating housing waiting lists."
The Cork scheme was first devised with former Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who demanded both Cork City Council and Cork County Council work together to address housing needs in a unified way.
The construction tenders were invited on the Official Journal of the European Union.
"Cork City Council, through a competitive dialogue procedure, is in the process of identifying suitable partners to deliver part of its housing programme for Cork," the tender note explained. "The city council is now in the final stages of selecting the preferred bidders and it is expected that construction of housing units will commence in the coming months on a number of sites in the city."
Council officials have stressed that foreign construction firms will be carefully considered for involvement in the scheme once they can offer firm assurances about meeting Irish construction and quality assurance standards.