CIF Director General Hubert Fitzpatrick: ‘We must build for the future, not just in time’

by | Apr 16, 2024

CIF Director General, Hubert Fitzpatrick calls for optimism surrounding infrastructure needs alongside a commitment to invest and build in Ireland

This April edition of Construction focuses on housing – how can we build crucially-needed homes to accommodate Ireland’s growing population?

Every day across the country people seek a place to live through private purchase or social and affordable housing.

And each day, our homebuilding members are fully in gear building these homes, against a tide of complexity. The process of building homes, once ground is broken, is often the simplest part of the housing puzzle.

Getting to that phase requires acquiring zoned and serviced land, which is a squeezed resource, navigating the overburdened planning system and managing a financially viable development that can attract investment and is affordable for the end buyer.

Despite these factors, housing supply is starting to move in the right direction. Some 32,695 new homes were completed in 2023, the highest in 15 years.

Industry stakeholders have been closely collaborating to devise new efficiencies and initiatives.

Government viability measures, such as Project Tosaigh, Croí Cónaithe and the Development Contribution Waiver Scheme, are bearing fruit, while the First Home Scheme and Help To Buy Scheme are enabling people to buy their first property.

All momentum is behind housing delivery with the population now at over five million people and expected to reach six million by 2050.

However, any surge in housing delivery will inherently depend on infrastructure. We must consider the entire housing ecosystem to support the delivery of new homes in the quantities needed.

New communities and residential developments necessitate water and sewage networks, electricity supply, public transport and roads, alongside schools, hospitals and other public services, to make them habitable as a place to live and work.

The Government’s commitment to investing in the National Development Plan is a critical factor in this. A review of the National Development Plan is taking place and this is welcome.

Currently, the length of time from project inception to execution is years and this means that the cost of carrying out projects inevitably changes.

We must be more streamlined in our assessment process and adjudicating on any planning application to accelerate the delivery of urgently needed infrastructure and housing.

Ireland is a small country that has thrived as a place for international business to locate and must be seen as a state that can deliver projects.

As a country, we need to be more optimistic in our view of Ireland and the infrastructure that is needed.

We know that Ireland will continue to grow and that investment in infrastructure will pay for itself in many different ways, so we must continue to invest and build.

And we must build for the future, not just in time.

The Government’s commitment to investing in the National Development Plan is critical for providing certainty to support growth in the construction sector and to provide assurances to the people of Ireland that their needs are being addressed.

Our members are committed to building affordable homes of the highest quality to accommodate Ireland’s growing population and support the aspirations of its people.

With a construction and planning landscape that enables housing provision and removes structural delays, we can deliver the housing needed to support a modern, dynamic nation.

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