Huge numbers of housing being built in areas with no infrastructure, experts warn

(stock photo)

Charlie Weston

Huge numbers of new houses are being built in areas with no infrastructure such as schools, water, transport and drainage.

A housing expert said many of these housing units are going into small towns on the periphery of Dublin, forcing homeowners into long commutes.

Architect and UCD academic Orla Hegarty said people who object to the building of large housing estates in small, underdeveloped towns should not be dismissed as Nimbys (not in my back yard) objectors.

“People in these towns who raise legitimate concerns about this are not Nimbys. These are real issues for existing communities, impacting on quality of life, access to services, congestion etc. This is why ‘planning’ is so important,” she wrote.

Ms Hegarty was reacting to figures this week from the Central Statistics Office showing that 21,000 housing units were completed last year.

Many of these were in housing estates.

The lecturer in architecture said 30pc of the new estate housing built last year is located in just seven Dublin commuter towns.

There include an additional Naas 829 units in Naas, Co Kildare; 429 units in Dunsaughlin, Co Meath; 659 in Celbridge, Co Kildare; some 494 units in Navan, Co Meath; an extra 539 in Drogheda, Co Louth; a total of 451 in Wicklow town and 465 in Greystones, both in Co Wicklow.

“So 3,866 new homes, over 10,000 people, are going into areas without adequate infrastructure, schools, water, drainage, transport.”

Ms Hegarty said this pattern is repeated further into the Midlands and around other regional cities.

“People are moving for ‘affordability’ and ‘space’, resulting in long commutes, road congestion, long childcare hours, lack of amenities, remoteness from family/friends and bigger carbon footprint for life,” she wrote.

She said the homes being completed are affordable to the buyers, at the cost of heavy state investment in new infrastructure, schools, services, public transport.

That is not being factored into simplistic housing policy that chases supply at any cos, she wrote.

This meant the housing being provided was not, in reality affordable to the Exchequer.

Just 909 housing unties were built in Dublin city last year. This accounts for just 5pc of all new housing in the State.

Where city housing is being built, almost all is small apartments not available to buyers. Instead it is owned by build-to-rent investors who are charging up to €2,000 a month for two-bed units.

Ms Hegarty said the new supply of housing is resulting in immediate and future social, economic and environmental costs that are not visible.

She added that the housing units being built this year and next are very vulnerable to changing market conditions, such as Brexit, interest rate rises, a global economic downturn, investment confidence, costs, and property prices.

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