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Croí Cónaithe (Cities): Unlocking apartment development potential

Apartments are a key element of our housing stock, and building new apartments, particularly in our cities is vital to help tackle climate change, achieve compact growth and make our cities more vibrant places to live, writes ­Catriona Lawlor, Administrative Officer with the Housing Agency’s Delivery Team.

Many people want to live close to work, close to well-serviced public transport links and close to all the attractions and amenities that our cities have to offer. A key focus of Housing for All is to ensure that people who wish to buy a home have a choice of locations, particularly within our cities and towns.

However, providing apartments for sale to households is difficult, for the simple reason that apartment construction is expensive. Currently, the cost of providing new apartments in our cities is higher than the price many buyers are able to pay. A report in 2021 by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland estimated the cost of building a new two-bed apartment in a Dublin city apartment block of five storeys or higher to be at least €493,077. Apartments have larger, more costly structural elements, internal common areas and lifts and can also require basement carparking. In many areas, the market sale price of an apartment is lower than the cost of building that apartment, leading to what is known as a ‘viability gap’. The ‘viability gap’ has contributed to a situation whereby planning permission has been granted for over 70,000 homes which have not yet been activated, predominantly in our cities. 40,000 of these are in Dublin. Of the apartments which are being built, most are being used for rental, rather than being made available for purchase by households.

The Housing Agency is working with the Government to address this viability gap, through the newly launched Croí Cónaithe (Cities) scheme. This is aimed at providing 5,000 apartments in five cities (Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and Galway) by 2026 through financially supporting the construction of apartment developments that have planning permission, but which are not currently financially viable. The Housing Agency will administer the scheme on behalf of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Ultimately, the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) scheme will result in more homes available to buy, free up properties in the rental sector, provide more choices for homeowners and create more sustainable, vibrant cities. More information on Croí Cónaithe (Cities) is available at: https://www.housingagency.ie/CroiConaitheCities

Catriona Lawlor is an Administrative Officer with The Housing Agency’s Delivery Team. This team plays a pivotal role developing new approaches to housing delivery leveraging its experience and deploying its expertise to help increase supply of private, social, and affordable housing.

E: catriona.lawlor@housingagency.ie
W: www.housingagency.ie