Before we do anything we have to focus on the housing opportunity. Nothing else will work properly without attending to this key issue first.
I attended a really interesting session hosted by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce to discuss the Draft Dublin City Development Plan. There was a big attendance by the top property companies in Dublin as well as other key stakeholders.
There was a presentation by John O’Hara, Acting City Planner of the Dublin City Council. He carefully outlined the areas around Dublin that have been specifically earmarked for development.
The big message from his presentation is that there is a huge demand for residential accommodation and the challenge for the city is to deliver this with the limited space that is available as quick as possible.
There is also big demand for quality office space – however without places for people to live extra offices will only cause problems.
John Moran, Managing Director of Jones Lane LaSalle (JLL) presented their medium term outlook on the property market in Dublin.
The highlights of this presentation were big demand for office and residential property matched with insufficient supply and a rising hotel market with 85% occupancy, one of the highest in Europe. Being practical about it (and it will be very unpopular to say) maybe its a good thing that the Web Summit will be in Portugal next year? – we won’t have the hotel capacity otherwise!
Quite tellingly we heard about two FDI projects that Dublin lost to overseas locations due to lack of sufficient office space. While this was a loss (the people in the audience were concerned when we heard this) would we have been able to provide accommodation to the workers needed in these companies ?
He also spoke about rising rents putting pressure on employees. This is simple – the employee looks for a raise because their rent has been increased by €200 per month – their problem becomes the employers problem and this wage increase (its takes a lot more than €200 to put an extra €200 in a persons pay packet) will be passed onto the customer and before you know it we are uncompetitive all over again.
How did we get back to this place so quickly?
Brendan Foster of Grant Thornton took us through a very interesting case study for a proposed National Concert Hall Quarter, which would deliver considerable much needed city centre office and residential space.
A few things struck me about the session:
Are we not talking?
I was really surprised at the discussion in the room – it struck me that these vested interests had to be brought together by the Chamber for these important conversations to take place. Surely these vital conversations should be happening for more than just 60 minutes? This is very worrying – joined up thinking is required to tackle such a huge issue and a Draft Development Plan for our capital should have much bigger input.
We all tend to think first about business, attracting more of it, making sure that quality office space is available – both for the big multinationals and the smaller indigenous start ups and service providers.
I could feel the frustration in the room when John O’Hara spent so much time talking about accommodation – we wanted to talk about business, BUT…
Housing is the most important issue that we have to get right very quickly – without this nothing else will happen!
It is clear that Dublin is seriously ‘overcooked‘ and there are serious issues with the supply of social housing, private and accommodation for rental.
If we don’t first sort out the housing challenge quickly in Dublin we should forget about attracting foreign direct investment and encouraging indigenous growth (I hate making that statement) in the city as it will cause further overheating, which we are not able to handle.
The housing challenge in its own right is a huge economic opportunity, which we need to do everything to grasp and facilitate as a huge priority, right now if we want to progress.
Lets start building ..