Tuesday 12 November 2019

Banking inquiry is a smokescreen

John Stafford asks: "How on earth did we come to have 300,000 houses lying empty around the country? Could there be any more startling proof of the extraordinary incompetence of our government and administration?" (Letters, Friday, January 23).

I completely agree.

The number of empty houses around the country clearly shows that the problems are more manifest and endemic to Ireland than simply being the result of reckless lending.

I believe the banking inquiry will act as a smokescreen to focus public anger at the bankers. While their behaviour leaves much to be desired, it must be remembered that the banks never made the legal decisions to develop land; this responsibility resides with the local authorities.

It must be patently clear to everyone that housing supply must be planned, monitored and managed in the public interest. This involves pure politics, telling people that their land is not needed for development as the city or town has a five-year supply of housing land already in place.

Planning permission is often refused (and I have done this myself) in Britain, solely on the basis of housing oversupply.

In Ireland, this would include all schemes as well as the 'sustainably' developed one-off settlements that have blighted and wasted vast tracts of land.

It is incredible to think that Ireland today looks exactly how Britain would look if there were no planning controls.

I can tell you that the UK government, elected members of local authorities, the Planning Inspectorate and the Royal Town Planning Institute would not countenance such a situation. And they would be right.

David Kelly, MRTPI
Birmingham, England

Irish Independent

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