Thursday 18 January 2018

We need cities to "grow up, not out' to cater for fast-growing population, says Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

We need cities to "grow up, not out", and we need more apartments to cater for a fast-growing population, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

It emerged today that new laws which would lift height restrictions on residential buildings could be passed in the coming months.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) annual conference today that: "We need a new type of apartment development, including the shared accommodation models that we see working well in cities around the world.

"To change how we build, the Government intends to lift the numerical height caps in our city cores and along major public transport corridors.

"I recognise that some regulations make construction more difficult and we will seek to change these by legislation.

"We need cities to grow up and not out. We need more apartments and more mixed use developments," he said.

Mr Varadkar said that the Government will continue to take whatever steps are possible to meet the housing needs of a fast-growing population, while guarding against the mistakes of the previous decade.

"He said that the CIF had earlier in the year made a submission requesting the establishment of a Construction Sector Group, as part of a "whole construction strategy".

Mr Varadkar said that the Government is supportive of such an initiative and he will work with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to see how it will operate.

The CIF which is holding its annual conference in Croke Park has described the measure as a "vital step in breaking from the past."
prize for working together in this way is enormous.

"We can build the 35,000 houses per year our people need and deliver the €50bn in infrastructure our economy requires.  However, this time, we can do so whilst building a globally recognised, competitive and modern construction industry."

He pointed out that similar collaborative approaches between Government and industry have worked in the agri-food, financial services and technology sector.

He said that Tuesday's Budget shows that the Government understands the enormity of the challenges Ireland faces in infrastructure and housing.

"We welcome the financial commitments made in housing and infrastructure. Some of the measures will enable our industry to positively shape Ireland over the coming decade."

However, he pointed out that some 90,000 houses were produced per year in 2007, "today we will struggle to produce 18,000."

"In 2006, we invested four per cent of GDP in infrastructure, today, we invest only two per cent."

"So, it's clear, we must do things differently this time to avoid the boom-bust cycle of the past. That's why the Taoiseach's announcement today is so critical for this industry," he told delegates.

Bringing together the relevant Government departments and state agencies, along with industry to establish the Construction Sector Group is a vital step in breaking from the past," Mr Doheny said.

"This time for the first time, Government and industry will collaborate on a growth strategy for the entire construction industry," he said.Tom Parlon, Director General, CIF highlighted the difficulties many SMEs are having in securing finance.

Despite recovery across most sectors in Ireland, output in the construction remains well below where it should be. The availability of skills and finance have the potential to undermine the industry’s recovery and future growth path," he said.

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