Housing supply boost will aid building sector recovery

The Government is set to sign off on a raft of measures aimed at increasing the supply of housing and creating 60,000 jobs in the construction sector, reports todays Independent. In addition the introduction of a punitive tax on developers who are holding on to zoned land is a key part of the coalition plan to speed up the construction of family homes.

The new plan aims to boost construction in areas where affordable homes are most needed, while also creating jobs.

The plan includes a fast-track system to allow builders to change existing planning permission and shift the focus to family-sized homes rather than shoebox apartments.

And a more formalised system of planning will be put in place to look at the housing, demographic and immigration trends. Reductions in development levies for builders are also proposed, as councils now have fresh income from the property tax.

In a further measure, the controversial requirement for builders to give one-fifth of new homes over to social housing will be reduced substantially or abolished completely.

The whole plan is aimed at tripling the number of houses built from 8,000 units last year to 25,000 by 2016.

That compares with 93,419 houses which were built in 2006, as the end of the boom approached.

The Cabinet will hold a special meeting on Thursday to discuss a draft, but decisions are not expected for another month.

The Government believes the level of construction is not keeping pace with the new housing demand and infrastructure requirements of the country.

At the moment, there are 90,000 construction workers drawing the dole, with doubts over whether they can be retrained for other jobs.

The construction industry is actually underperforming as it accounts for just 6pc of GNP.

The aim is to bring this up to 12pc and create 60,000 jobs in the process – 12,000 in the next year alone. Source: The Irish Independent.