Local Authorities Seminar addresses the Housing Debate
Co-operation Ireland in association with The All-island Local Authority Forum and the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD), held an innovative Seminar in Maynooth University on Thursday 10th September 2015. This event was jointly funded by DOE – Department of the Environment (NI) and the Environment, Community and Local Government (ROI).
This cross border event was attended by representatives from Local Authorities, Statutory Departments and housing associations from throughout the island of Ireland.
The focus of the seminar was “THE Housing Debate: (Re) Building our Communities through Integrated Working with Local Government.”
The event was hosted by an impressive range of speakers including Mr Tim Caffrey, CEO Longford County Council, and Ms Caroline Creamer (Director ICLRD), Prof Janice Morphet from University College London, Mr Michael Clegg from Affordable Housing, Homes and Communities Agency, Ms Nicola McCrudden, Director Chartered Institute of Housing in NI & Ireland and Mr Eugene Cummins, CEO of Monaghan County Council, Ms Catriona Regan, Director of Leisure and Development, Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Council, Mr Bartley Gavin, Directorate of Housing & Corporate Services, Sligo County Council and Mr Bernard Boyle, Secretary of Forkhill District and Development Association.
The overall consensus from the event was that there is an acute shortage of housing throughout Ireland on both sides of the border, and urgent action is required. Throughout the island of Ireland, there is a necessity to create an effective infrastructure to ensure that well designed new social housing is provided and there is a provision of more affordable homes in general. This is necessary to meet the needs of a dynamic demographic, as people are living longer, there is an aging population and households are generally getting much smaller and one member households have become common. It was also citied that there is no such thing as a “National Market” and there are multiple sub regional housing markets where a genuine demand for housing exists. A “one-size-fits all” approach will not be successful and a bespoke approach must be considered for individual regions.
Whilst it was acknowledged that the private sector has a role to play and it could become more integrated in how social housing is established, it is critical that Local Government have a huge leading role to ensure that there is adequate land release and urban regeneration becomes an optimum priority. With this combined approach and additional support, Community organisations would also be able to supply more “local housing for local people throughout Ireland” to sustain communities and the services within them. Sustainable housing provision is necessary to fulfil the housing needs on both sides of the border.