DEVELOPER Michael O’Flynn said that he could build more houses in Cork and sell them at lower prices if the government adopted his plan to reduce the cost of land.
Mr O’Flynn said that the high price of houses in Ireland could have been avoided if better decisions had been made during the recession.
Proposing changes to zoning laws that he believes would lower house prices, Mr O’Flynn said that young couples are now struggling to buy homes despite the warning signs being clear years ago.
“It’s awful that we are back to such a situation after a collapse.
“Five or six years ago, I predicted another housing crisis, and people dismissed me,” he said.
He urged the government to change course now and try to reduce the cost of building in order to increase supply and lower costs for first-time buyers.
Although he has thousands of houses in the pipeline around the metropolitan area already, he said that he could build even more and sell at lower prices if the cost of land went down.
“I think Cork has huge potential. Housing is too expensive. We have to look at the elements that cause that, and a big factor is land cost,” he said.
“If we could acquire land at a more reasonable cost, we can sell houses at a more reasonable cost,” he said.
In a proposal to the Minister for Housing, Mr O’Flynn suggested a policy that would allow land in Strategic Land Reserves (SLRs) to be easily re-zoned for housing if a viable development plan is in place.
Cork has several SLRs around the city’s suburbs and commuter belt.
He said that the policy would remove a stumbling block for developers trying to use land not zoned for residential purposes and that the increase in the supply of zoned-land would lower market costs.
He said that the Cork City Council and County Council were both active in identifying land, but zoning needed to be made easier.
He said that strict criteria would need to be put in place for people rezoning land, including a commitment to completing construction within a certain timeframe, building in areas with sustainable amenities and public transport, and including social and affordable housing in the scheme.
He believes that the measure would deter land hoarding and speculation in metropolitan areas and reduce the chances of sharp price rises in the future.