Property group says homes in Government’s flagship apartment scheme should be open to purchase by landlords

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Gabija Gataveckaite

The chair of Property Industry Ireland (PII) claims opening up the Government’s flagship apartment scheme to landlords would make it more viable.

Ivan Gaine told the Dáil’s Housing Committee developers would have higher chances of getting finance to build homes if they were a mix of owner occupied and rental apartments.

The Government’s Crói Cónaithe (Cities) scheme gives developers up to €144,000 per apartment to incentivise the building of an extra 5,000 units.

Developers have to guarantee apartments will only be sold to owner-occupiers.

“If Crói Cónaithe was more mixed tenure, that there was owner occupier and rental within that scheme, it’s a much better development, it’s more viable, and it potentially could be funded,” Mr Gaine said.

He said the challenge with the scheme at present is getting funding and there is a willingness from developers to build homes.

“The challenge is this constant delivery of a single tenure,” he told TDs and senators.

“What the density guidelines have pushed is that you can’t purchase, because it’s not viable, it’s not fundable. So there’s no choice, there’s no option.”

He said there is a mixed tenure approach in the UK, where homes in developments are a mix of cost rental, affordable purchase, buy-to-rent and owner occupied.

The committee heard apartments are very costly to build and in many cases, not viable.

The “vast majority” of un-activated 80,000 planning permissions are apartments, which are “so much more expensive” to build than houses.

Conor O’Connell of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said foreign funds were previously “forward funding” apartment developments which were being rented out.

“That’s the challenge for housing delivery later on in 2023,” he said.

Jane Doyle, of Irish Institutional Property (IIP), said there is no accountability in securing decisions on delayed planning permissions.

She said developers who get their €10,000 per Strategic Housing Developments (SHDs) application back for delayed decisions still don’t know when a decision will be made.

“It’s not [An Bórd Pleanala’s] fault, because they’re under-resourced,” she said.

Property group representatives told the committee developers do not want to see the money back as it does not help in getting quicker decisions on proposed housing developments.

The delays in getting decisions are getting worse the committee was told.

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