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Land Use, Land Value and Urban Development

Ireland’s housing system is facing a crisis. While there are many aspects to this crisis the issue of how to provide both affordable rental and owner-occupied housing for a growing proportion of the population remains paramount. It is also accepted that Ireland needs to achieve a substantial and sustained increase in the level of investment in public transport particularly in urban settings. This research sought to explore the role of land use, land value capture and urban development in addressing these twin policy challenges.

The resulting report, Urban Development Land, Housing and Infrastructure: Fixing Ireland’s Broken System, addresses a number of challenges identified in the Government’s strategy Project Ireland 2040.  These include the provision of affordable rental and owner-occupied housing for a growing proportion of the population and achieving a sustained increase in the level of investment in public infrastructure.

The report argues that the State must drive the provision of housing and urban development.  The Irish housing system is speculative, volatile and expensive. The dysfunctional nature of the urban land system has the effect that land is not available in appropriate locations at a cost that will allow affordable housing to be provided.  The report outlines international experience of countries with more effective, affordable and stable housing systems (the Netherland, Germany, Austria and others), and the growing international interest in using the uplift in land value to help fund transport infrastructure and affordable housing.  Drawing on this evidence, the report outlines an integrated set of policy actions for fixing Ireland’s broken system

In developing this report the NESC Secretariat prepared two background papers: International Approaches to Land Use, Housing and Urban Development and Land Value Capture and Urban Public Transport.  Building on this work, in February 2018 NESC organised a workshop on international approaches to active land management, housing affordability and use of various instruments to fund infrastructure. It featured expert speakers from the Netherlands, Austria and the UK, and was attended by senior actors from government departments and agencies, as well as a representative from each of the pillars on the Council.  The learnings both from this workshop and subsequent Secretariat communications with the international experts are reflected in the final report.

The report also builds on the four reports on housing and land agreed by the Council is recent years Social Housing at the Crossroads: Possibilities for Investment, Provision and Cost Rental (2014); Homeownership or Rental: What Road is Ireland On? (2014); Ireland’s Rental Sector: Pathways to Secure Occupancy and Affordable Supply (2015); and Housing Supply and Land: Driving Public Action for the Common Good (2015).

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