An Irish perspective on a global challenge, Tim Cahill of Grayling Properties explores how restrictive land regulation and planning processes, along with a long-term lack of spending on infrastructure, are having a knock-on impact on the housing market.

According to recent Economist analysis, Ireland is not alone in experiencing a steep rise in the cost, and availability, of housing. This is a challenge worldwide.  However, interestingly, this is a relatively new global phenomenon.

Since the mid-20th century, average house prices globally have risen by over 50%. However, average incomes haven’t kept pace with this rise. Neither has the construction of housing, which is now half what it was in the 1960s.

A closer look at the Irish market

Looking at it from an Irish point of view, the Irish government has unveiled an ambitious multi-billion euro infrastructure plan – with €165 billion in spending between now and 2030. There is specifically €4 billion-a-year in funding earmarked for the Housing For All Plan, including a commitment to deliver 33,000 new homes on average annually. However, despite this positive funding commitment, there are numerous associated elements which need to be addressed to see this plan come to fruition.

Two items in particular include tackling planning process issues, which are leading to significant building delays, as well as a need for sustained additional infrastructure investment.

Planning delays – a controllable factor

Despite significant increases in building costs — a problem affecting global markets — demand for development land in Ireland remains strong (Savills report). In the third quarter of 2021, sales of Irish development land totalled €184 million.

However, whilst a rapid increase in building supply costs on a global scale is somewhat out of our control, delayed planning and challenging public procurement processes are seen as additional and unnecessary elements adding to building costs. This is slowing down the construction of new housing.

The IDA, Ireland’s foreign direction investment agency, has recently criticised the often drawn-out planning processes and, in particular, the lengthy judicial review process.

Lack of spend on vital infrastructure

A lack of spending on infrastructure has restricted the availability of viable land, suitable for residential construction. Underinvestment in utility services specifically, such as water and waste water connections, is a significant roadblock in securing timely planning permission for construction projects.

In their pre-Budget submission, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) called on the Government not to delay investment in capital infrastructure. Accelerating the provision of funding to bodies such as Irish Water will be critical in securing urgently needed infrastructure provisions for construction activity.

Ireland can take some solace in that we are not alone in such underinvestment. According to Irish Building Magazine, Europe has also neglected to invest adequately in infrastructure to support long-term economic growth. This investment and growth would benefit the whole Euro zone, Ireland included.

Of course, aside from new building projects, there is also the option of renovating existing housing stock. However, this is not as easy an alternative solution as it may seem. We recently discussed this is my blog on conservation laws in Ireland.

While the housing and property markets remain in difficulty, there are achievable solutions. Joined-up thinking through measures like streamlining regulation, along with increased investment in capital works, will go some way to boosting supply to meet demand.

Are you looking for a partner who knows the Irish property market? If you are interested to hear more about how Grayling Properties can work with you to manage your property portfolio, contact our Property Management Team today at