CONCERNS are growing about the cost of developing city centre landbanks for housing, with one councillor reporting that some land may need a multi-million euro upgrade before work could begin.
Pylon removal, water and gas work and road access are all issues that are slowing down construction, with Fianna Fáil's Sean Martin claiming that one city centre site needs as much as €10 million in work to make it market-ready.
In addition, Cork City Council spent €1.9 million servicing debts associated with unused landbanks last year, money which could be better used elsewhere, the former Lord Mayor added.
He said that it may be time to earmark some sites for private development of affordable housing to reduce debt and kick-start activity.
Speaking in recent days, developer Michael O'Flynn highlighted the cost of land as the main issue holding back development in Cork city and county.
"The question is, what is it going to take to bring some of these landbanks up to a point where we can develop them," Mr Martin said.
"I have heard that one particular site could cost as much as €10 million by the time we factor in pylon removal, gas and water works, let alone anything else that might be required."
Mr Martin said there are major issues with drainage and road access on many sites identified for large-scale developments. He said that local authorities will struggle to access the funds required to bring these up to scratch.
"It may not be a popular suggestion, but some of these should be earmarked for private development with the stipulation that they are used for affordable housing," he said.
"Cap the sale prices at €200,000 or so and flood the market with these types of properties. There needs to be a solution because, right now, people earning €35,000 to €50,000 will struggle to ever buy a home without an affordable housing scheme."
He added: "We are spending huge sums of money servicing debt on landbanks: €1.9 million this year alone. This is a huge sum that we could have spent on housing maintenance or road works or other projects. It is unsustainable and will continue to have a detrimental effect on our housing budget."