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Land development agency head says we need to change the way we think about housing

The Chair of the Land Development Agency wants Irish people to change the way they think about housing.

John Moran has suggested that Ireland should look at countries like the Netherlands where they have more focus on communal living.

He told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that a site like that of the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum should remain in State ownership offering a variety of accommodation options which could see people move from a starter home, to a family home to a retirement option – all on the same site.

“We need to start thinking in 21st century terms.”

Mr Moran said he was very concerned about the way Dublin and areas in the rest of the country are developing. The Land Development Agency is very excited about Project Ireland 2040 which contains plans for 150,000 homes in 20 years.

He questioned why so many facilities had to be based in Dublin such as headquarters for banks and RTE. In terms of growth Dublin had surpassed other European cities as other countries did not develop in the same way with so much concentration on one location.

Ireland needs to develop best practices on what urban living looks like, he said.

There is an issue with affordability and the need people have to have property to hand on to the next generation. This is not practical as part of a succession plan and instead Ireland should focus on long term rental accommodation.

“We need to look at things radically different from the way we have thought in the past. The worst we can do is respond with a knee jerk reaction.”

The Land Development Agency has an opportunity to change the way in which we live.

When asked how quickly accommodation could be developed on the Dundrum site, he said “that depends how many politicians or locals decide to object.”

He warned that plans should be fully investigated so there is not a repeat of the national children’s hospital where plans were changed along the way.

It is not the role of the Land Development Agency to solve the homeless crisis, he said. Homelessness is a short term problem which would still have to be tackled by the Government if the Land Development Agency did not exist.

Homelessness can be tackled through social housing and HAP payments, he said. The role of the Land Development Agency is to rebalance the country and to bring about the plans included in Ireland 2040.

“We need to look at places like Dublin Port which has the capacity to house 50,000 people. What are the options? Infill?”

Plans in relation to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum are also well under way, he said, but could not be developed fully as the agency does not yet have full access to the site which remains a working hospital.