THE government’s new housing plan will fail Clare unless it addresses the unique challenges facing permanent residents trying to secure affordable housing around Clare’s tourist hotspots.
That’s the warning delivered this week by Coucillor Cillian Murphy, who told a council meeting on Monday all the anecdotal evidence suggests there is a crisis in the availability of affordable housing stock, for both private ownership or long term rental for permanent residents.
Councillor Murphy called on the local authority to conduct the relevant research to establish
the current demand in Clare for affordable housing for permanent residents who do not qualify for social housing assistance, with a firm timeline for the delivery of this research.
While Councillor Murphy applauded the vision and pragmatism in the government’s New Housing for All plan, he stressed the devil will be in the detail as to where housing solutions will be provided.
“The demand for second or holiday homes is long recognised worldwide as a push factor around the lack of housing availability for permanent community members in holiday resorts,” said Councillor Murphy.
“Covid-19 has become another push factor, as remote work has become more prevalent by necessity, a different type and quality of life has become more attractive, and possible and people are moving in increasing numbers to our rural and coastal settings.
“We do a remarkable job of telling the world how amazing this county is and so it’s no surprise that large amounts of people would like to come and live her, but it is becoming increasingly evident that this is at the cost to those who already do,” he noted.
“Those on low – middle incomes cannot compete for properties with those on much higher incomes, who may have sold on a property in a big city and have significant capital to invest in their new life.
“Time and time again our existing community members are either being outbid on a property or the house they are renting is being put up for sale, leaving them no choice but to leave for other parts of the county with less pressure.”
He warned that this issue is not just affecting Kilkee, and is impacting coastal communities throughout the country.
The FF member asked where will people who work in tourism attractions throughout Clare live if they can’t get accommodation in the locality.
“I currently have 10 families, from Kilkee and the wider Loop Head Peninsula, with 20 children, that are having to look outside their home area for housing; this will have monumental impact on all facets of the sustainability of our industry.
“Moneypoint is on the cusp of providing up to 600 jobs through renewable energy production. Again I ask, where will these people live if we do not begin to put in place a plan to deliver the required housing to ensure this development delivers for the communities within which its being delivered?”
Director of Service, Anne Haugh, acknowledged the supply of housing remains the key issue in the county, but noted there is minimal developments of scale under construction at this time.
“The lack of new housing supply has impacted on the second-hand market, which has seen significant increase in property prices in the county,” she said.
“In a recent circular issued by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage the basis for allocation of funding from the newly established Affordable Housing Fund was outlined as
“Funding will be specifically targeted at areas where a strong demand for affordable housing units is evidenced, by reference to a Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) carried out in accordance with the guidance to local authorities circulated in April 2021 or other verifiable data indicating a strong, evidence-based affordable housing need.” – Anne Haugh
“Where an assessment for an administrative area has been undertaken using the specific HNDA Guidance and Tool, it will form the sole basis of determination of a strong demand for affordable housing units.”
At this juncture, she stated the council is awaiting further detailed criteria against which applications for affordable schemes will be assessed.
It is clear that a robust evidence based case will need to accompany any such application, she said, which will identify a verifiable housing need in the area in question and that the proposed dwellings can, in location and price, address that need.
Ms Haugh said it is intended to commission a detailed study as requested in the motion, which will build on the data already compiled as part of the preparation of the Housing Strategy.
Members will be advised as requested as to the timelines for completion of this research.
By Dan Danaher