New Housing Minister: Darragh O’Brien TD
22nd July 2020
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John O’Connor, The Housing Agency: Foreword

Time for a long-term housing plan

The 2020 edition of Ireland’s Housing Magazine comes at an unprecedented time. The Covid-19 pandemic is going to change how we live forever. One major change is to our housing. More people have begun working from home, a trend that may continue for the foreseeable future. We need to design our housing and communities so that they can facilitate this. Our approach to housing may need to change, potentially focusing more on the provision of shared facilities in communities that people can use to support this new way of working.

We need to grab this opportunity to rejuvenate our towns and villages and make them attractive places for people to live and work. Key to this is the national roll-out of high-speed broadband and building new homes in the right places, particularly in in-fill developments within the existing footprints of towns and villages. This will allow people to live, work, shop and socialise within walking distance, providing a greater quality of life for individuals, and reducing our national carbon footprint.

To achieve this vision, now is the time for us to put a long-term national housing plan in place. This can be done in a similar fashion to existing long-term plans we have for the climate and economy: the Climate Action Plan and, under Project Ireland 2040, the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan.

Countries that would be considered to have more stable and successful housing systems are characterised by having and implementing long-term policies. It takes time to plan, design and deliver housing. The housing that we provide will exist for many years to come, so we need a long-term plan to ensure we take the right actions.

Key points to consider when designing such a plan include:

  1. Housing must be sustainable. When we talk about sustainability, in the first instance, this means being sustainable from a society and community perspective as well as being sustainable environmentally.
  2. Housing must be affordable. Cost rental is the provision of homes, with secure tenancies, at an affordable rent. It is a long-term model which integrates well with long-term planning. Affordability comes from long-term sustainable funding and proper management and can have a moderating influence to achieve housing affordability more generally.
  3. A long-term plan needs broad support at a societal and political level. Long-term plans require all-party consensus to survive changes in government. Housing measures take time to implement and bear fruit and it may take several years for the first results to become evident.

The advantages of such a plan are clear. It would give certainty to our citizens and all stakeholders in the housing sector. A well-planned, long-term housing policy would ensure that homes continue to be delivered throughout the economic cycle and that our communities are sustainable, affordable and attractive places to live.

John O’Connor
Chief Executive Officer
The Housing Agency