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My Eye – Planning’s role in encouraging housebuilding

By April 12, 2017No Comments2 min read

The latest episode of BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Business investigated Northern Ireland’s housing supply shortfall. Following on from this, Chambré’s Tom Mariani looks at the role planning can play in encouraging new build housing.

Wendy Austin’s latest Inside Business podcast shone the spotlight on Northern Ireland’s housing situation.

All-in-all, our housing sector is healthy, especially compared to the rest of the UK and Ireland. Property sales are high, and prices and investor expectations continue to edge upwards.

Nonetheless, supply is a serious concern.

In short, not enough homes are being built to keep up with demand.  As Wendy herself put it, “There are worries down South about the rapidly-expanding construction sector; […] meanwhile back here, we’re simply not building enough homes.”

There are lots of reasons for this. For instance, labour shortages and material prices mean that the cost of construction is rising rapidly.

But the biggest obstacle to increasing supply seems to be the planning process.

Instituted two years ago, the new two-tier council-led system was supposed to improve and streamline the process.  But for many, the wait for a planning decision has only grown, with some applications taking as long as two years to go through.

Demand for housing is high, finance readily available, and builders are willing to build. Yet there continues to be an acute shortage of housing in Northern Ireland.

Building houses is a necessity of life, and an effective driver of economic growth – but our planning system is getting in the way.

With part of the problem identified it’s now down to us to suggest solutions. To do this effectively we need proper debate with all the relevant voices heard.

On 17 May, the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) together with Chambré Public Affairs, have arranged a landmark seminar on the planning process in Northern Ireland. Featuring insight and analysis from planners, developers, legal professionals and councillors, and with Departmental participation confirmed, the seminar promises to shed new light on this and other important issues.

To book your place at our seminar, please click here.