Council Must Double its Housing Output

Eoghan Dalton Reports

The Chief Executive of Waterford City & County Council believes Waterford city must will have to
more than double its current housing output if it hopes to match ambitions for growth set out in the Project Ireland 2040 plan.
Michael Walsh told Councillors at last week’s Plenary meeting in Dungarvan that the Metropolitan area – taking in Tramore and east County Waterford – will need between 500 and 600 extra houses each year for the foreseeable future.
At least 100 of those builds would be social housing said Mr Walsh, while there would be a maximum of 500 private builds.
“We’re probably only at a 150-to-200 (building rate as per last year). You must include Kilkenny, as in the Ferrybank area as part of this, and we need a significant increase, I’ve no illusion around that,” he added.

A major escalation in current building rates in Waterford generated considerable debate at last Thursday's City & County Council meeting in Dungarvan.

A major escalation in current building rates in Waterford generated considerable debate at last Thursday's City & County Council meeting in Dungarvan.

However, he believes it could be another three years until the Council is at the level needed. “But in the grand scheme of things that would be okay,” he said.
Deputy Mayor John Cummins (FG) had raised concerns that the local authority would be some distance off the targets necessary under the Ireland 2040 plan. He said that if Waterford is to increase its population by 30,000 people, “we need about 1,600-to-1,800 houses a year up to [2040]. But the reality is we’re only building 150-to-200 houses in the current year, so how do we get from 150-to-200 to 1,800 houses?”
Cllr Cummins pointed to the 1,000 construction workers planned for developments on the North Quays and Michael Street as well. The current indications are that they will be in the city over a period of three years.

“People are going to be working in these facilities – they have to live somewhere. So what are we trying to do to try and up the supply of housing? What are we doing in terms of engaging with landowners and developers to try and develop the private side of things?” he asked.
The CEO said houses would follow once other aspects could be secured. “Ironically, I think the jobs come first. If you want to keep it simpler – if we want to support an additional 30,000 population we’d need 6,7 or 8,000 jobs. I think they’ll be the catalyst to bring the market for the housing and I think the market will respond.”
He later told Councillors how, overall, Waterford is in a “very reasonable place” but is still facing difficulties from the housing market. “I think we have a little bit of an issue with the attractiveness of our locations in the city. [But] there certainly would be indications that Tramore is beginning to roll, and one or two areas in the city are beginning to roll.

“We’ve limited lands that are zoned residential. The simple reality is there’s probably a gap between affordability and price still. People will see prices are rising higher in Waterford at the moment. That could be expected for another year.”
Noting the price of second-hand houses in Waterford, he said the city is “reflective of the national market running a year or two later”.
But he does feel there has been improvement: “You can see there’s movement in Dublin and it’s not good enough, but there’s really significant movement there. There’s a bit more movement now in Cork, I think, but regional Ireland generally isn’t that different in terms of the number of houses being progressed at the moment.”

For full story see The Munster Express newspaper or
subscribe to our Electronic edition.

Leave a Comment