Cork risks losing its greatest opportunity for growth in decades if the city – and county – fails to tackle the housing crisis.
A chronic lack of accomodation is hitting investment and jobs in a wide range of otherwise booming sectors – from tech and pharma to manufacturing, services and life-sciences – as major employers struggle to find accomodation for new staff.
The warning comes from leading Cork-based developers GPD – the building company run by brothers Eamon & Liam Hetherington – who are currently involved in major construction projects in the city and county.
The company warned today that Ireland must more than triple the number of new homes built in 2018, which was just 22,000 units – and developers and local authorities need to consider innovative approaches, mixed-used schemes and the regeneration of older neighborhoods rather than concentrate almost totally on single apartments.
“We are currently facing a deficit of about 90,000 homes in Ireland,” says Aaron Willis, General Manager at GPD. “Our residential property market can only become fully functional once this deficit has been corrected”.
“We need to rapidly ramp up our construction numbers as a matter of urgency and whilst there is a myriad of factors that will need to be addressed before we can do this, we believe the overarching focus should be on the development of multi-use residential schemes, along with the continued development of traditional houses
In Cork, where a major population increase is predicted in the next 5 to 10 years, there have been dire warnings of the risk of suffocating the recent boom in sectors such as tech, pharma and finance if we cannot house our workforce.
“The city is on the up – there is no doubt. But there is much work to be done to allow us to capitalise on the opportunities we have carved out for the region,” says Mr Willis.
“The civic mission of the city is to attract more multinational corporations here – the cranes across the skyline demonstrate our commitment to building the offices in which to house these organisations.
“But where are these workers going to live? We need much greater numbers of mixed-used developments in the region as a matter of urgency.
“We must put the infrastructure in place to attract both young workers and those workers in their 30s and 40s who want to live in the city with their families.
“We must make Cork a compelling proposition if we want our economy to thrive.”
Amongst the action GPD would like to see taken are moves to bring down the cost of land and to tackle the battle between the ‘wall of cash’ from investment funds looking to develop Irish property and the will of small indigenous investors to purchase land for schemes.
The developers also warn that a shortage of skills and labour is stifling construction.