A UCC academic has said preliminary data from Census 2022 is a “warning signal” that Cork will face even greater shortages of housing in the coming decades.
Preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the population of Cork City and Cork County increased by 7.1% in the six years between 2016 and 2022.
There were 581,231 people living in Cork City and Cork County on census night on April 3, representing an increase of 38,363 people since 2016.
This was made up of a natural increase, for example births minus deaths of 17,471, and an estimated net inward migration, taking into account population change minus natural increase of 20,892.
Piaras Mac Éinrí, a lecturer in Geography and European Studies at the Department of Geography in UCC, told The Echo while the preliminary figures were a positive sign for Cork, they offered a “warning signal” that Cork is not prepared for projected population growth over the coming two decades.
“If you look at the Government’s 2018 document ‘Ireland 2040’, what it says is that Dublin is already big enough, and the future of growth in Ireland for the next 20 odd years is going to be the next biggest cities, Waterford, Galway, Limerick, and Cork.” Mr Mac Éinrí said.
“You’re looking already in that projection at something like a 50% increase in the population of Cork.”
Mr Mac Éinrí said the city would likely expand to the east to accommodate that increased population, and it would be up to city officials to work out the best blueprint for that expansion, and to then put housing and infrastructure in place.
“The question I would ask is whether they can do that by relying on the private sector to do all the housing construction, and I think the answer is very obviously no,” Mr Mac Éinrí said.
“Unless we go back to some kind of state intervention, state planning for housing construction, among other things, we’re not going to reach those targets,” he said.
“I would read the CSO data as a positive indication that there are more people who want to come and live here, and that’s great, but unless we provide the houses and the infrastructure, the roads, the health system, everything else, it’s not going to be a success.”
The CSO figures show that the total housing stock in Cork City and County in April 2022 was 242,199, an increase of 12,704 (+5.5%) since 2016.
There were 17,280 vacant dwellings, which was 2,657 fewer dwellings than in 2016 (-13.3%). This does not include holiday homes, of which there were 7,280 throughout the city and county.
Reacting to the figures, the Green Party in Cork called on the Government to proceed with plans for a vacant properties tax.
Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said it was incredible to believe that houses could be left empty in the middle of a housing crisis.
“The Government has committed to a vacant property tax in the next budget along with measures for landowners sitting on zoned land.
“Property owners who are leaving houses empty need to realise the damage they are doing to society and the economy by hoarding property like this,” he said.