High-rise housing could solve crisis in the capital
As the Dail Committee on Housing and Homelessness publishes its report, it is somewhat gratifying to see the depth to which housing policy impacts the whole of society is finally beginning to be understood.
It's not merely an issue for the Department of Environment and Local Authorities, it crosses several Government departments. It may have taken a general election and a complex electoral result to force co-operation across political parties and Independents but it is, nonetheless, very welcome.
The Programme for Government in its Action Plan for Housing is committed to ongoing regular review of actions by a Cabinet Committee. Our organisation IPAV made such a proposal to the Government because we recognise it as the proven method of getting officials across Government departments to work successfully together on the myriad of issues involved.
And it needs the buy-in of the whole of Government, not just one minister.
That said, there are still a number of issues that appear not to have received the same level of attention. The first is that of commuter transport, particularly in the capital, Dublin.
Thousands of people are still prepared to pay extremely high rents to live between Dublin's canals, rather than commute to suburban towns, because the quality of public transport is not what it should be.
If we're to make living in the suburbs a realistic option for working people, transport needs to be addressed by Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, along with ministers Damien English and Shane Ross.
And the second issue is that of housing density in the capital. Whether we like it or not, more people, especially younger people, will continue to live in Dublin as it is and will be the major source of employment. To facilitate this growing population we have to build upwards as well as outwards.
I welcome the decision by Dublin City Council to allow planning permission for apartment blocks of up to 24m in height, even 28m or nine stories, the height allowed for commercial blocks, would be appropriate.
Cities around the world that have restrictions on height have high rents and high levels of homelessness. Brussels is a city where people live very comfortably - and at very reasonable rents - in very good quality apartments in high-rise blocks.
The current housing crisis represents an opportunity to bring all interests together to build a sustainable property market for this and future generations.
- Alan Redmond is MD of Redmond Property Consultants and incoming President of IPAV, the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers