Houses being built at a site in Kildare Eamonn Farrell
land development agency

Land Development Agency should have power to acquire public and private land, ESRI says

The Land Development Agency (LDA) currently builds homes on publicly owned land.

ADDITIONAL POWERS FOR the Land Development Agency (LDA) to acquire public and private land could help reduce the cost of building houses, according to a new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

New research from the ESRI into constraints on the supply of new housing shows that there are ongoing constraints within the construction industry, including inflationary pressures and a shortage of labour.

According to the report, entitled ‘Increasing future housing supply: What are the implications for the Irish economy’, land prices in Ireland have been traditionally volatile due to speculation and increases in house prices in recent years.

To combat this, the ESRI has said that a state body with powers to acquire both public and private land for residential development would reduce land speculation.

“This would result in the speculative component of land prices being greatly reduced resulting in a potentially sizeable reduction in a key cost of housing construction,” reads the report, published this morning.

The report suggests that the LDA could be used and granting the body expanded powers could have a “significant impact” on the cost of building a house.

The LDA is currently responsible for developing housing on State-owned lands, with the body prioritising the building of cost rental housing.

However, the ESRI report also notes that there would likely be significant legal challenges to acquiring land outright.

“However, it should be noted that given the highly litigious nature of the Irish property sector, the legal challenges in acquiring land in this manner would likely be significant.”

It adds that any land could then be allocated to an Approved Housing Body (AHB), local authority or a private developer, bypassing a bidding process.

“It would also avoid the possibility of private developers, local authorities, and AHBs all attempting to acquire the same development land causing the price to increase.”

The research also identifies other areas of Irish housing policy which could be updated to allow for additional housing to be brought onto the market.

This includes proposals to increase the amount of modular housing developed around the country, alongside the redevelopment of both vacant and derelict homes.

The report references the most recent GeoDirectory Residential Buildings Report, which estimates that there are 90,158 vacant homes across the country, as well as 22,096 derelict homes.

“Therefore, some of these 90,158 units could be added to the housing stock with much less labour or materials than would be needed for the same number of new units,” the report reads.

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