Array of obstacles facing councils in building more houses

Sligo 444%, Donegal 192% and Leitrim 266% — these are the massive percentage increases needed in housing delivery in the north west to meet targets in county development plans, according to recently-published figures.

And despite the high figure in Sligo, it’s a particularly sensitive issue in Leitrim because of the difficulties in getting planning permission for housing in rural areas.

Junior Planning Minister Peter Burke says the majority of the State’s 31 local authorities have to more than double their housing output every year over the next six years to meet government targets.

Responding to a query from Ocean FM News, Sligo County Council says the figures draw attention to the well documented fact that, as a country, we are not delivering the quantity of new housing required to meet current and forecasted demand.

It says that while local authorities have a key role to play in ensuring that the right conditions are in place to facilitate the supply of both private and social housing, it is important that we must be realistic about what is achievable at a local level.

It says the housing crisis is a national issue for the past 10 years or more.

In terms of the delivery of private housing, the council says it has ensured there is no shortage of land zoned for residential purposes to meet the population targets as set out at a national level.

It says among the reasons for the current undersupply of housing are insufficient serviced sites coming onto the market; banks slow to lend for either site acquisition or construction; costs of building, planning, design, compliance with building regulations and materials — all making margins extremely tight.

It also points to a shortage of skilled workforce and builders, as well as the fact that the costs of construction are greater than the price of second-homes.

Sligo County Council says the upcoming review of the County Development Plan will provide a further opportunity to ensure that sufficient land is available to meet current and future demands.