Michael O’Flynn: New agency won’t solve housing crisis

Michael O’Flynn: New agency won’t solve housing crisis
Michael O'Flynn, CEO and chairman, O'Flynn Group, addressing the conference on Housing Affordability and Supply. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A VACANT land tax and the government's new land development agency will do nothing to solve the housing crisis in the next five years.

That was the damning message from developer Michael O'Flynn, who was speaking yesterday in Cork at a conference on housing affordability and supply.

Hosted by law firm PJ O'Driscoll & Sons, the conference was attended by more than 200 guests.

Along with Mr O'Flynn, speakers included Declan Dunne, the CEO of Respond; Michael Lynch of Cork County Council; and Pat O'Sullivan, head of real estate with AIB.

The message from the conference was clear: the time for talking is over.

The recently announced land development agency (LDA), which aims to deliver 15,000 homes on State-owned land over the next two decades, came in for criticism, as did proposals for vacant land taxes.

Mr O'Flynn hit out at the government's efforts to ease the pressure on the housing market. He said that land remains too costly and that none of the current proposals will resolve this.

He said: "Land is too expensive and getting land to the market at affordable prices is a problem. The big issue around housing is supply and we need to focus on how to resolve supply. The basic problem is that we do not have viable developments at affordable prices.

"Not connecting viability to affordability is a serious issue and whilst I welcome the Land Development Agency (LDA) objectives, I have some serious concerns around the implementation plans. Neither the vacant land tax nor the LDA will do anything to deliver a solution to the housing problem within the next 5 years. The proposed government solutions are looking at solutions for the 5-10 year period, but are not tackling the solutions required over the next 5 years."

Pat O'Sullivan of AIB told the conference that current plans should see about 27,000 units brought to the market by 2020. However, the demand per annum is 35,000 units nationwide.

The conference also heard calls for more affordable housing from Declan Dunne of housing agency Respond.

"The new affordable housing scheme needs to be financially sustainable and replicable around the country," he said.

"There can be no subsidised housing without a subsidy. I welcome the department's proposed new affordable housing scheme and we look forward to hearing the details of how the affordability element will be subsidised."

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