Housing and Infrastructure Gaps will Exacerbate Brexit Fallout - Construction Network Ireland - Construction Network Ireland

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Published in Construction on 03/10/2019

Housing and Infrastructure Gaps will Exacerbate Brexit Fallout

#CIF #CIFConference #SBP

CNI Editor reports

The housing crisis and infrastructure gaps were the focus at the CIF Annual Conference yesterday in Croke Park.  The event was attended by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

The Annual Conference follows CIF’s recent Pre-Budget 2020 submission, which highlighted the extension of the Help to Buy scheme as top of the agenda for budget day next week.

CIF is calling for an extension of the Help to Buy scheme in particular, as many housebuilders have reported that between 40% and 80% of homes sold to first time buyers are currently enabled by the Help to Buy Scheme. The measure is considered the most effective intervention by Government by Irish housebuilders in terms of enabling housing supply.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, said he thinks there would be great value for the Construction Industry Federation, and the construction sector more generally, in developing and setting out its own, detailed, long-term vision for construction to go alongside Project Ireland 2040.”

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Opening the conference to a packed room, Pat Lucey, CIF President, said “Developing effective collaboration between the state and the construction industry is essential for the delivery of large-scale infrastructure and of course housing delivery.  We are on the road so to speak but we are not there yet.

There are too many blockages in the system that we must work together to resolve. I’ve grouped these challenges under 4 headings that I call the 4 Ps of construction:

These are: People, Procurement, Productivity and Planning. I’ve recently added a fifth P that I now see has a huge impact on delivery, and that is Politics.

It’s a simple fact that there is widespread interest in what construction delivers – the houses, the work places, the utilities, the transport links, the hospitals, the schools – but there is much less interest in how they are delivered.

So, we must explain the reality of construction to politicians and the civil service, and indeed the public, relentlessly”.

Tom Parlon said it was a top priority for CIF working towards finding a solution for the housing crisis and appealing to the government to work with them on this issue. Housing completions are increasing on average 35% year on year between 2014-2018 expanding from 5,500 to 18,000 annual output in that period.  The Help to Buy scheme has had a huge impact in driving this growth in annual output. Before the measure was introduced, young people are excluded from purchasing a home and were forced to rent, live at home and apply for social housing.

Currently, the Central Bank guidelines make it impossible for the average couple to secure mortgages.  We’re proposing a shared equity scheme whereby the Government take a small stake in newly built houses to reduce the level of deposit required to secure a mortgage. We’re looking for other sensible and sustainable measures such as recognising rent history as proof of ability to repay mortgages.

There are myriad issues delaying the delivery of housing across Ireland.  For example, statutory planning densities mandating extensive apartment building in rural and regional towns make it impossible to secure development finance for homebuilders to build housing. Allowing homebuilders to respond to changing consumer demands would enable them to secure finance and deliver housing developments that meet planning densities, regulations and standards.

Delivering infrastructure more efficiently is also part of the solution to Ireland’s housing crisis.  However, our public sector procurement system is wholly inadequate in terms of delivering strategic infrastructure.  Improving this system is the most significant step the Government could take in reducing project delays and cost overruns. Infrastructure delivery is key to the success of Project Ireland 2040. Unfortunately, large scale projects, particularly outside the GDA, are delayed or stalled at a time when our regions are slipping back and facing a rough Brexit.”

The CIF Annual Conference is the CIF’s flagship event which attracts more than 500 delegates members who operate both nationally and internationally, as well as the range of other stakeholders in the industry.

Topics covered at the Annual Conference included:

  • Creating a built environment for our changing world
  • European Construction industry address: Construction 2050: Building tomorrow’s Europe today
  • Industry outlook: Are clouds gathering?
  • Building our future workforce: How do we get young people excited about careers in construction?
  • Smart procurement: How to modernise and transform procurement practices
  • Planning our future: Creating a sound and sustainable approach to planning in Ireland in the years ahead
  • Project Ireland 2040: We’ve got the plan… now let’s deliver it!

All these issues were discussed  with a range of international speakers and panels including:

David McWilliams

Economist, author, journalist, documentary-maker and broadcaster

Ann Bentley

Global Board Director, Rider Levett Bucknall and CLC (Construction Leadership Council) Board Member, UK

Kjetil Tonning

President of FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation), Brussels

Robert Watt

Secretary General, Dept. of Public Expenditure and Reform

Alison Watson MBE

Founder and Chief Executive, Class Of Your Own, UK

Niall Cusson

Chief Executive and Planning Regulator, the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR)

Michael Carey

The Housing Agency

Marguerite Sayers

President of Engineers Ireland, BE CEng FIEI Chartered Engineer

To find out more visit https://www.cifconference.ie/