Friday 13 December 2019

Innovation key to avoiding same mistakes

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

IT IS not that there's a complete shortage of housing suitable for growing families in our towns and cities, it is just that many properties are not available for use.

A couple whose children are reared may be interested in selling their large house, if they can remain living in the area.

The problem is that there are not sufficient smaller homes available to them.

Addressing the needs of these empty-nesters will help free up stock, and allow families to upgrade.

The Housing Agency report sets out a number of options, many successfully used throughout Europe, to help ease our growing housing crisis.

There's no reason why a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments cannot be accommodated in the same block, it says. The larger homes could be spread across two or three floors to make best use of the site.

New ways of providing homes for students and younger workers are also needed. Workspace accommodation involves providing small apartments with shared facilities such as laundries, and larger rooms suitable for parties or social events which could be booked in advance.

The empty space above many high-street businesses could also be converted into homes, and empty properties, including those in ghost estates, should be utilised.

But there are concerns that the construction industry and estate agents are seeking cuts in levies, taxes and reductions in density so they simply can continue to build traditional family homes.

"What they're asking for now is wrong and it's very hard to get through to them," one source said. "Some of the views are very short-sighted. This is not all about three-bedroom houses. We have a chance to get it right."

There are 63 hectares of land available for housing to Dublin City Council at the moment. In the past, between 15 and 25 homes could be built on an acre.

But in the Docklands, as many as 118 per hectare could be provided. Somewhere between the two is the solution. We need a new way of providing housing for our citizens.

Building a glut of three and four-bedroom family homes with gardens is not the way forward. Innovative solutions need to be found to prevent repeating the mistakes of the past.

Irish Independent

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