Minister O’Sullivan tells SCSI conference budget 2014 will boost construction sector

Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, TD, today welcomed signs of a pick-up in activity in the construction sector.

Opening the annual conference of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland the Minister said, “last month saw the first growth in the construction sector since May 2007 and, perhaps more importantly, sentiment among construction firms regarding the 12-month outlook, as measured by the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index, was the most positive recorded over the past six years.”

“This is positive news and I expect specific measures introduced in Budget 2014 will provide a boost to the construction industry next year.  These include the home improvement tax incentive and work on significant capital projects such as the National Children’s Hospital, the Wild Atlantic Way and a new National Indoor Training Arena.

“In my own area of housing a new €10m fund for unfinished estate resolution and an additional €30m in capital spending on social housing building and refurbishment will provide an additional stimulus to an industry that has the capacity to create much needed skilled employment.”

In relation to comment in recent weeks about housing supply in the Dublin region the Minister stated, “The response to housing demand has to be coherent – taking account of the various factors that drive or indeed restrict demand.  In this regard I was disappointed at some of the commentary surrounding recent CSO data revealing a spike in house prices in certain areas of Dublin.

“The impression was created by some voices there the problem lay in zoning and available planning permission in the Dublin area, with the solution to be found in more zoning, more supply and the sooner the better.  I don’t share this partial analysis.

“There is at present appropriate zoning and extant planning permission for more than 30,000 units of accommodation in the Dublin region – that is across the four Dublin local authorities.

“Also I want to dispel the myth that this supply consists solely of apartment type development.  Planning permission currently exists for more than 11,000 houses – a significant and substantial supply pipeline.

“We need to plan for housing demand, but in doing so we need a coherent approach that recognises the role that development finance and a functioning mortgage market plays in this regard.  A simplistic analysis that demands more zoning and planning is wide of the mark.”