'We need to build 5,000 apartments every year in Cork city' - UCC expert says houses are too big for modern living

'We need to build 5,000 apartments every year in Cork city' - UCC expert says houses are too big for modern living
A view of the proposed new 25-storey JCD Group residential development on the Carey's Tool Hire and former Sextant bar site. Image G-Net 3D www.gnet.ie

A UCC economist has said Cork needs to build 5,000 apartments per year to combat housing shortages. 

Dr Frank Crowley of the Spatial and Regional Economic Research Centre at UCC's Cork University Business School believes Ireland needs to re-think the way it builds houses more generally.

"Apartments and high-density living should be a high priority goal for Cork and arguably should be 'the only game in town' when it comes to what type of dwellings we should be building for future populations of the city.

"We should be building 4,000 to 5,000 apartments per year in Cork city to meet Ireland's 2040 population expectations."

Dr Crowley adds that 70% of Ireland's population currently lives in "under-occupied housing".

"Yet, we are suffering from an acute shortage of housing. This is also at a time when the average household size fell from 4.1 to 2.75 persons over the past 35 years.

"Clearly, we are building houses that are too big and not catering to future population needs."

Dr Frank Crowley, UCC Pic: Brian Lougheed
Dr Frank Crowley, UCC Pic: Brian Lougheed

The UCC academic believes this is "simply a waste of resources".

"We should be encouraging investment in smaller dwelling sizes, particularly as household sizes are expected to drop further in future decades."

Ireland is also out of line with the rest of Europe. 

"Currently, the most common household type in Europe is a single person living on their own. In Cork, only one in ten people live in an apartment, and apartments only make up 15% of the accommodation stock in the Cork city area.

"Such a distribution is way out of kilter with the EU average and Ireland has the lowest occupancy of apartments in Europe."

Dr Crowley also believes the housing issue will force people to move out of Ireland, as well as discouraging others from moving here.

"Unfortunately, our sprawled living patterns, our high under-occupancy patterns, our long commuting times, our type of housing distribution and the costs associated with this way of life will make our cities uncompetitive, congested, unsustainable and less liveable for future generations."

He also says modern life has seen a change in the "work-live-socialise" paradigm, meaning more people will expect to live close to their place of work.

The view of the proposed new JCD apartment building on the Sextant site.
The view of the proposed new JCD apartment building on the Sextant site.

"All the current economic trends point towards cities and compact living being more important in the future, where jobs are more likely to be located near already highly concentrated employment zones, city cores and near higher education institutions."

Cork's burgeoning office developments are in line with this idea.

Dr Crowley also called for "seamless public transport links" between Cork city's core and Cork's other main employment hotspots in Mahon, Little Island, the harbour, Blackpool and the Airport.

"It's time to concentrate development, look inwards and upwards rather than outwards in the Cork city region."

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