Council rules ‘adding €40,000’ to cost of apartments.
Mr Scully said the rules, which relate to the size and aspect of new-build apartments, were in excess of Department of Environment guidelines and were curtailing supply at a time of acute housing shortages in the capital. “Everyone recognises that there is a serious dearth of housing available and maybe we’re raising the bar a little too high in the Dublin City Council area.”
Mr Scully was speaking ahead of the launch of Bruce Shaw’s latest annual review of the Irish construction sector in Dublin on Thursday, which Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended.
Minimum floor areas
Back in 2007, Dublin City Council introduced regulations compelling developers to build apartments to larger-space standards, essentially with minimum floor areas and ceiling heights.
Because of the property crash and the ensuing collapse in construction, few units fitting these standards have been built. Now that the market is picking up and the requirement for more housing is rising, the council is coming under renewed pressure to soften the regulations.
Mr Scully described the larger-space aims as “laudable” but questioned if they were affordable in the current market, noting they were pushing up prices, especially for first-time buyers.
In its report, Bruce Shaw said while recovery in construction was “most apparent” in the Greater Dublin Area, it would gradually spread out from there, initially to the other urban areas.
It said the initial phase of recovery had been led by big foreign direct investment projects mainly in Dublin and by renewed activity in the commercial sector.
The report highlighted a number of challenges that still posed a risk to recovery. “These include both global concerns such as instability in the euro area and local issues, primarily around funding and particularly skills shortages,” Mr Scully said. “As the industry contracted so dramatically it has lost large numbers of people in the design professions, site management and skilled craftsmen,” he said.
The report noted the value of construction output rose to €11 billion last year, which corresponded to 7.1 per cent of gross national product (GNP).
However, this was still well below “the recognised norm” of 12 per cent of GNP for developed countries. While employment in construction in 2014 rose to 110,000, this was also well below the boom-time high of 270,000, recorded in 2007.