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housing targets

Nearly 40k houses will be built this year, says O'Brien playing down Harris’ target to build 50k

Concerns have been raised as to whether the cost-savings are passed on to the buyer.


HOUSING MINISTER DARRAGH O’Brien has played down ambitions by Simon Harris to increase the government’s house building targets, after the Taoiseach insisted it could deliver 50,000 homes every year for the next five years.

O’Brien said the government needs to build up the capacity in the construction sector before it can commit to building 250,000 homes in a five-year period.

However, speaking at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in Dublin today, the minister said the government “is going to get up towards 40 [thousand], the high thirties this year. 

The housing minister said the government’s current target to build 33,000 per year is “not a ceiling”, with Finance Minister Michael McGrath agreed, stating “we’re going to go well above 33,000 homes, I think this year”.

Harris said his pledge to build 250,000 homes between 2025 and 2030 would not mean the “smooth delivery” of 50,000 across each of those years, conceding it could take time to ramp up capacity.

Exceeding targets

“We’ve exceeded those targets and what I’m really interested in is exceeding the target again this year.

“I can confidently predict that we will see very significant housing delivery in 2024, to build on the 100,000 plus new homes that Fianna Fail and government have been able to deliver.

“Let’s be in no doubt we are acutely aware that there’s many many people out there who still don’t feel that change, particularly those who don’t have a home at all.

“They are our priorities too but the trajectory this year is very, very positive. Affordable housing for the first time in a generation, more social homes in over 50 years. First time buyers now buying at a rate that we haven’t seen since 2006,” he said. 

He added: “We’re going to double down on our efforts this year.”

“I think the reality of it is if if you could flick a switch and deliver 50,000 homes next year, of course you would do that.

“The reality of it is that you need to build up the capacity in the construction sector to deliver those homes and people understand that too.

“We have about 25,000 more people working in construction now that we have pre-Covid. That capacity is building and you’re seeing because of that build capacity now, the delivery actually building too.”

Speaking about the progress of the overhaul of the planning legislation, the minister said “come hell or high water” he will get it passed by the summer recess. 

Development levies

Earlier today, the housing minister announced that development levy exemptions for developers are to extended further in a bid to reduce the cost of construction, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has confirmed today,

“I am bringing a paper to cabinet this week to scrap development levies and water connection charges for all homes including rural houses to the end of this year,” he told the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis today. 

“The right to build your own home has always been at the core of Fianna Fáil’s housing policy, I am proud to support housing at the beating heart of rural communities with practical, real policies that make it cheaper for people to build and buy their homes,” he said. 

The move had been flagged by new Taoiseach Simon Harris in his own Ard Fheis speech last week.

Scrapping development levies for developers has been seen as one of the more controversial measures in the past from the government with concerns flagged as to whether there is enough safeguards to ensure that the cost-cutting measure is passed on to the buyer.

In a bid to reduce the cost of construction, development levies required to connect new homes with roads, water and other services have been paused. 

The housing minister has said in the past he believes the move will help to mobilise many of the dormer planning applications and deliver some 70,000 to 80,000 units that fall under the inactive planning permissions that are already in the pipeline.

The move is said to bring about a saving of up to the value of €12,650 per home on average.

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