Sunday 17 December 2017

Housing crisis means bedsits and high rise buildings seriously considered - Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the final day of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Pic: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the final day of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Pic: Mark Condren
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

THE crisis in housing means high rise buildings and a return of bedsits have to be seriously considered, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

In an indication that he backs proposal to repeal laws which banned bedsits four years ago, the Taoiseach said: “There is a housing crisis in Ireland, and while you are in a crisis situation you approve policies and do things that you wouldn't do if there was not a crisis.

“So it is under consideration, but not in a way that would see any diminution of basic standards relating to fire or relating to public safety. That will not happen,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said he wants to make significant progress on the housing problems, particularly in the area of affordability.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets with newly weds Ian and Eleanor Walsh from Kilmacow county Kilkenny on the final day of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Pic:Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets with newly weds Ian and Eleanor Walsh from Kilmacow county Kilkenny on the final day of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Pic:Mark Condren

“I am someone who was able to buy an apartment when I was in my 20s. It was the norm back then for people in their 20s to buy their first house or apartment.

“House prices were actually higher than they were now, but huge numbers of people in their 20s and 30s can't get a home either because they can't get a mortgage or it doesn't exist.

“So a big part of what we will have to do as a government is to focus on affordability to ensure that people in their 20s and 30s who are working and who are now renting or living with their parents, actually have a chance to buy a home, that is going to be a big part of what we do,” he said.

The Taoiseach added that he wants local authorities to significantly ramp construction of social housing.

He will be asking Fine Gael councillors to take a “positive view” toward higher densities and higher rise buildings in cities.

“Maybe people might oppose them in the years gone by but given the need to build housing, and quickly. We need to have a more positive view of all types of development,” Mr Varadkar said.

Asked about plans to repurpose Nama so that it can finance development, the Taoiseach said the idea originally came from former finance minister Michael Noonan.

“If you think about it, Nama will more or less complete its remit in the next couple of months and pay off the remainder of the senior debt.

“They will have done what they are set up to do and at the same time they are a body with money and experience in finance and development, they have already been doing that for developers who owe money to Nama.

“They also have some land they would be entitled to and there are people working there with a lot of experience in finance and building. It does seem to be a very logical idea,” Mr Varadkar said.

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