April 17, 2023

Housing Commission Survey

Ciarán Cuffe, MEP for Dublin
Green Party Comhaontas Glas
The Tara Building
11-15 Tara Street, Dublin 2

Jennifer Thompson, by email secretariat@housingcommission.gov.ie

The Housing Commission

Custom House, Dublin


Thank you for the opportunity presented by the Housing Commission’s survey. Given the breadth of society which is affected by government housing policy, opportunities for citizen input on such policy are invaluable. 

I have completed the survey attached to the consultation, and I copy a selection of my responses below. We need more homes. To do this we need sites, building materials, skilled workers, permission to build, and the finance to make it happen.

  1. There’s too much under-used land in our city and town centres. Some is public land, and some is private. To ensure more land is brought into use for housing we need an annual site-value tax on zoned land to disincentivise hoarding, and reduce the price of land, which will make housing more affordable in the long run. Local Authorities need to make better use of their own surplus land, and they should follow the example of cities in the Netherlands which have made serviced sites available for self-build and co-operative housing projects, generally in the form of high-density terraced housing.

  1. As supply-chain shortages ease we need to make better use of prefabricated or modular housing elements. Denmark is doing this (as you might expect from a country that invented Lego) and we need to follow their example. By giving greater certainty about how many homes we wish to build over the coming decade, it will attract more building supply companies to invest in Ireland.

  1. We should make greater use of the Vienna Model of cost-rental housing. In essence this provides mixed-income housing under the one roof, where tenants pay a rent based on their income, and profit-taking is minimised. This Austrian approach has proved its worth over one hundred years. We should also prioritise key-worker housing for teachers and emergency service workers.

  1. Local councils are well-placed to deliver housing. We should let Local Authorities borrow money for housing. This would mean less red tape and oversight from central government. We must also slow down on tenant purchases, so the amount of social housing units does not reduce dramatically.

  1. There is scope for greater re-use of existing buildings. The regulations around planning, conservation disability access, and fire protection need to be updated to make it easier to renovate buildings and encourage ‘living over the shop’ schemes. Every urban area needs to employ someone whose only job is to help building owners refurbish their properties, and bring them into residential use, where appropriate.

  1. More one-stop shops are needed. They should also assist with changing the use of offices to residential, where appropriate. Building renovations to improve energy performance need to be encouraged, to get us on track to net-zero building stock by 2050.

  1. Finally, innovative finance is required. We should use a portion of semi-state pension funds to provide social housing, and we should provide fiscal incentives for the refurbishment of vacant older properties.

I trust that you will take my suggestions into account.

Sincerely yours,

Ciarán CUFFE, MEP for Dublin

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