Nama: 'We're not 'sitting' on Dublin new homes sites'
Nama has moved to dismiss claims that it is 'sitting' on sites in Dublin and the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), which could be sold or otherwise freed up for the immediate development of new homes to address the housing crisis.
The Irish Independent has received claims from several developers that the State agency currently has control through debtors and receivers of a number of prime residential sites both in the capital and its surrounding counties which are serviced and ready-to-go, that it has yet to release for development. One developer who spoke to this newspaper referred to lands in Baldoyle, Clongriffin, Kinsealy, Tyrellstown, Whitehall, Pelletstown, Stillorgan, Brennanstown Road and Blessington Road as falling into this category. Outside of the capital, the developer offered the example of a site currently under Nama's control in Naas town centre, which he insisted is ready for the construction of new homes.
Asked for comment on the claim that Nama was contributing to a delay in the delivery of new homes in the capital and elsewhere, a spokesman for the agency said: "The suggestion that Nama is 'sitting' on sites that are ready for development is untrue. The only criterion considered by Nama is whether sites are commercially viable to develop. If they are, we fund residential projects under the control of our debtors and receivers without any delay. If projects are not commercially viable, we are prohibited under our legislation from funding them."
According to Knight Frank's 2018 New Homes Construction Survey, a lack of suitable sites for residential development is now being cited by developers as the largest obstacle to construction. In the absence of such sites, the report says that an increasing number of developers have begun acquiring lands without planning permission in place. While a not-insignificant 30pc of sales fell into this category in 2016, Knight Frank's latest survey suggests that this proportion has ballooned to 50pc as developers and their funders pin their hopes on securing planning after purchasing lands.
The current shortage of development land is also raised as an issue in the latest quarterly review of Dublin's residential investment market from Hooke & MacDonald. Commenting on the obstacles being faced by developers looking to deliver apartment schemes in the capital, the report states: "The cost and availability of sites for apartment developments, coupled with planning delays, are significantly constraining factors in the supply of residential accommodation."
Referring to the potential level of demand for apartments in Dublin, Hooke & MacDonald says: "There is a significant under-supply of apartments for both the sale and rental markets. There is currently a shortfall of 150,000 apartments in Dublin based on the current population and housing count. Apartments are the preferred choice of accommodation by over 90pc of renters."