This time, we must make sure to get housing right
THE Government should pay heed to what An Bord Pleanala is saying. A sophisticated approach to delivering housing is what is needed at this difficult time, not a knee-jerk reaction which would allow construction of thousands of new three- and four-bed semi-detached homes across the country. No one doubts the desire of many to get on the property ladder and their frustration at not being able to buy a home to call their own.
But we know what happens when planning is given lip service instead of being at the heart of building communities – hundreds of ghost estates in unsuitable locations, homes built on flood plains, developments located in areas with little or no public services, including the transport links, shops and restaurants that are so vital to everyday life.
The Housing Agency says it's not simply a case of there being no family-sized homes available. The lack of properties coming on to the market is the difficulty. It suggests, not unreasonably, that many empty-nesters would be quite happy to trade down if they could move to a smaller home in the same location. This is one area that could be targeted for investment, with high-quality apartments built with roof terraces, parks and balconies to provide much-needed open space. Failure to create a real and sustainable solution will only shore up problems down the line. Forcing people into their cars to travel to work and school is not sustainable. Extending the spread of our larger cities means more time commuting and less with family and friends.