Sunday 25 February 2018

Only 11,000-12,000 homes will be built this year

Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

House-hunters can get used to traipsing around north Dublin, as more than one in six of the 8,093 housing projects started last year are in Fingal.

In all, almost 60pc of new-builds are in Dublin and the surrounding counties.

Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford combined accounted for less than 20pc of new projects.

That is according to figures provided by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), which points to the commencement statistics to give an indication of where new houses will come on stream this year.

Foundations were laid for 1,368 housing units in Fingal in 2015.

Director of Planning at Fingal County Council AnnMarie Farrelly said there was a simple reason for this.

"It's the location of most of the development land for the Dublin region" and "obviously demand is high in the capital."

Ms Farrelly said there was planning permission in place for 10,000 units that could be "built today" across areas like Swords, Malahide, Blanchardstown and Clonsilla.

The "level of (building) activity is proportionately low" compared to the number of planning permissions and "financial factors" may be delaying some projects, she said.

One firm building in the area is Hora Homes, which plans to have finished 155 houses at Beresford, Donabate by 2018.

Sales director Aidan Hora said the village was attractive because it's on the coast, like Malahide or Portmarnock, but at more affordable prices.

"We've been there since 2013 - very traditional three- and four-bed semis and the odd detached. It's a really steady market," he said while adding that his firm hadn't yet experienced the kind of queues that were common during the boom.

The company is also building in Co Meath and Mr Hora believes that increased supply in the housing market is coming.

"There's a lot of stuff in the pipeline," he said, pointing to large projects around Dublin, including those by big international firms.

One such development is at Cherrywood, south Dublin. Last November, Hines Ireland submitted the first planning application for a road network to pave the way for a new urban centre there.

There are plans for a new town along with up to 3,800 apartments and houses at the site.

But while there is some activity in Dublin, it's still a far cry from the heady days of the boom and construction across the country is well short of meeting demand.

In 2006, a record 93,019 housing units were completed before that number fell through the floor during the crash.

There were just 12,666 units finished last year.

Department of the Environment figures show that 920 houses were finished in January and the CIF expect 11,000 to 12,000 completions overall this year.

It's still a long way off the 25,000 a year that the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has said is needed to meet the demands of a growing population.

Of the 8,093 housing construction projects begun last year - more than 38pc or 3,105 - are in Dublin with around 20pc (1,763) in Kildare, Meath, Wicklow and Louth.

Cork accounts for 10pc, Galway is at 4pc and Limerick and Waterford are around 2pc each.

Almost 40pc of all the units commenced in 2015 are once-off houses, though the bulk of these are outside Dublin. The proportion of once-off builds is 73pc in Galway.

The city's Mayor, Frank Fahy, said that much of the construction there in recent years had been finishing projects that had stalled during the crash.

He said there were planning applications for estates but he would be "hard-pressed" to name major developments in the city and that much of the building in the county was in the once-off sector.

The Fine Gael councillor said there was "serious demand" for family homes and new estates.

He added; "The Government needs to start a major house-building project - let it be Nama or whoever. It has to be done. We have serious issues with housing," he said pointing out that there are more than 4,000 people on the social housing waiting list in Galway city alone.

Sunday Independent

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