Chambers Ireland, the voice of business throughout Ireland, has said that a successful Housing for All strategy will help to deliver greater economic competitiveness and create more sustainable communities across Ireland.
The organisation, representing 40 Chambers of Commerce, said that elements of the strategy – including a tax on vacant land and properties, changes to preservation orders and increased funding to the Land Development Agency – are important developments and will help to unlock opportunities for the delivery of housing.
The ambition, financing, and targets included in the strategy were also welcomed. It said that its members have been highlighting the need for a coherent housing plan for many years and that it hoped the launch of Housing for All would represent a “sea change in how land and housing is managed in Ireland”.
Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, Ian Talbot said: “The success of businesses in Ireland is deeply connected to the strength of the communities in which they are situated. Providing well-located, high-quality housing together with people-focused urban design will help to reinvigorate our towns and cities, strengthen local economies and alleviate a considerable burden on individuals and families.
“The ambitious targets will need significant investment, substantial skills development within the construction sector and a sizeable expansion in apprenticeships so that the labour factors of production do not hold back our potential. There will also need to be an expansion of the number of employment permits available to the sector.
“The focus on vacant properties is welcome and offers a pathway to not only a sustainable recovery, but also the opportunity to reinvigorate our city centres and towns which have suffered gravely over repeated Covid-19 lockdowns.
“Our urban areas were already struggling before that crisis occurred. Action on vacancies is key to creating sustainable cities and towns that are attractive places to live and work long beyond the immediate post-pandemic period.
“Chambers Ireland strongly supports the “value sharing” approach for financing the infrastructure that is necessary to make new developments liveable. The role of local authorities will also be vital to ensure the interests of communities are served.
“For companies in Ireland, the under-supply of affordable housing has been particularly harmful due to the increased cost of living and its impact on wage pressures, its role in attracting and retaining appropriately skilled workers, and high rental costs for companies located in urban areas.
“The workplace practice changes that have been accelerated by Covid-19 highlight the need for Ireland to be an attractive place to live and work, with the quality-of-life effects caused by the affordable housing shortage undermining national productivity and opportunity.
“Key to the success of the strategy will be the resourcing and reform of our planning system and courts to reduce unnecessary setbacks. With 2030 targets looming, we cannot afford any further delays.”