MHC: Property professionals believe planning law changes will have biggest impact on housing supply

MHC: Property professionals believe planning law changes will have biggest impact on housing supply

Pictured (left–right): Colm McCarthy, Vanessa Byrne and Ronan Lyons

More than nine in 10 property professionals believe that streamlining planning would have the biggest impact on boosting housing supply in Ireland, according to a survey by business law firm Mason Hayes & Curran — but only four per cent feel that a new government would have the most significant effect.

The survey was carried out at the firm’s annual property conference, Planning & Building for Tomorrow, which took place at the Mansion House, Dublin, today and attracted almost 500 industry professionals.

Jamie Fitzmaurice, real estate partner at the firm, chaired a panel on Housing Delivery and Beyond.

Mr Fitzmaurice commented: “Boosting supply in the housing market is key to addressing the chronic shortfall of housing supply in Ireland. What was very clear from today’s discussion is that it’s a challenge that requires a collective solution.

“Collaboration across all stakeholders, from both the public and private sector, is critically important if we are to find new and innovative solutions to deliver the scale of housing needed to satisfy demand.”

The event included a discussion between economists Ronan Lyons and Colm McCarthy. Three industry panels debated the most topical issues they are encountering in the property sector.

Mr Lyons Lyons, economist and Trinity lecturer, predicted: “The next three years will be challenging due to external factors like costs and interest rates and the self-inflicted decisions of a cumbersome system. External factors will dominate but if we’re not building 50,000+ houses a year, things are going to get worse.”

A majority of respondents (57 per cent) think that the Planning and Development Bill will have no impact on reducing bottlenecks in the planning system.

Paul Bassett, construction partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, moderated a discussion on The Planning & Development Bill – Will it Speed up the Planning System?.

He commented: “Whatever you think of the Planning & Development Bill – and there was a lively discussion on my panel – it represents the largest overhaul of Ireland’s planning and development regime in over 20 years.

“I think the poll results reflect the difficult balancing act between ensuring a time and cost-efficient planning process, while complying with our legal requirements related to public participation and access to justice.”

The survey also found that two-thirds of the industry (66 per cent) believe modular housing could make a significant contribution to the housing crisis.

Panellist Arlene van Bosch, senior development manager at the Land Development Agency, said: “We need better assurances as an industry on the quality, the costs and the protocols in using modular housing. The speed at which modular houses can be constructed means that if those assurances are there, it could be a good option to explore.

“However, we need to ensure we don’t rely too heavily on one single solution when it comes to increased supply of new residences.”

When asked to predict the average daily rate of office occupancy in Dublin in 2026, the majority of respondents (51 per cent) said it will be between 50–70 per cent.

Tom Davy, real estate partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, chaired a panel discussion on PropTech and the Changing Face of Real Estate.

He said: “Flexible and remote working mean Dublin’s office occupancy rates are in a state of flux. AI and other technologies can certainly create more efficient offices, track occupancy rates, identify cost and energy-saving opportunities, and generally enhance workplace management.

“But what came across strongly is that AI will not replace human input or roles but more so augment them, and as a result the office space and personal interaction is still critical for most organisations.”

Commenting on the event overall, Mason Hayes & Curran partner and co-head of real estate Vanessa Byrne said: “Addressing the property crisis is one of the most important issues facing our country today, and our built environment lawyers are finely attuned to the challenges and complexities facing the sector.

“Today’s conference was an opportunity for industry leaders to discuss how we can plan and build for a better tomorrow. We explored the key issues we are encountering with our clients, from the potential of Proptech to the proposed new planning regime and the critical issue of housing delivery in Ireland.”

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