Housing crisis puts regional enterprise plan in jeopardy

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

THE Mid West Regional Enterprise Plan, which proposes a range of projects and initiatives for Limerick, Clare and Tipperary over the next three years, is already in jeopardy because of a lack of housing.

Speaking at the launch of the plan in Nenagh yesterday, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said that the housing crisis was one of the biggest problems facing the country and the government.

“There is absolutely no doubt the high rents, high house prices and lack of supply is a barrier to potential future economic growth. If we bring people with skills into the country, we need somewhere for them to live. We simply don’t have enough supply,” Mr Varadakar added.

“Despite the pandemic, over 20,000 new homes were built in Ireland last year; 30,000 began construction, and nearly 40,000 went through planning permission. Yet, it’s just not enough and we need to do everything we can to speed that up and make sure there are more homes of all sorts for people to buy and rent in all parts of Ireland”.

Mr Varadakar said the government planned to offer grants to people to renovate vacant properties because the “Repair and Lease scheme didn’t work as well as we hoped”.

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“Minister of State Peter Burke is bringing in changes to planning legislation to make it easier for people to convert old commercial buildings, like pubs, into homes.

“Other measures include a proposed landowner tax, affordable housing schemes, income rental purchase schemes, as well as insulation upgrade programmes.

“There are a number of different initiatives underway, but it is not happening quickly enough and I acknowledge that,” Mr Varadkar added.

Limerick Fine Gael TD, Kieran O’Donnell said that Limerick City and County Council was looking at affordable housing schemes and  income rental purchase schemes.

“They are also looking at certain sites and there is also the upgrade scheme in terms of insulation.”

“Each local authority is looking at it specifically, and the Tanaiste has made reference to a new scheme that is about to be announced that will allow people in towns and rural villages to do up vacant homes.

“I think that will have a huge impact on rural villages and towns throughout Limerick and north Tipperary.”

“The Land Development Agency has picked Limerick City as one of its key focuses and that will fed in with this enterprise plan as well in terms of jobs and housing, so it’s an integrated approach.

“I think there are very specific plans for this region that will integrate with the Regional Enterprise Plan in terms of job creation, but more particularly in terms of the provision of housing,” Deputy O’Donnell added.