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Varadkar: No convincing evidence of land bubble

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has denied that Ireland has a land bubble problem, despite the suggestion by the state financial agency last month.

National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Conor O’Kelly said there was a clear “market failure” when he was questioned during the final Dail Public Accounts Committee in July.

Mr Varadkar, speaking at his summer media briefing, acknowledged there was a significant amount of derelict land not being made available for development, but denied there was a bubble issue.

“I haven’t seen convincing evidence of a land bubble at this stage but it’s something we have to look out for.

“I do think there is a lot of land that is not being made available for development quickly enough and that’s why we brought in the derelict site levy and vacant site tax, for example, so that more land can be made available.

“Its also why we’re setting up the Land Development Agency, which will give the agency powers to acquire land and develop it.”

According to Mr Varadkar, the agency will develop state-owned lands for private and social housing.

It will also have powers to acquire land on behalf of the state.

“This will see the Government getting a lot more involved in the housing market and developing land for housing,” he said.

The questions were put to Mr Varadkar after it was highlighted that a recent report from the Central Bank warned of a boom and bust cycle in the Irish economy.

Mr Varadkar, speaking at Leinster House, added that the Government is not where it would like to be in regards to housing.

“We’re making some progress on housing but not enough, we’re a way off from where we want to be and need to be.

“We are seeing rent stabilising, falling in some places, and the number of homes built in 2017 has seen an increase of 75% from the last two years and social housing waiting lists are falling.

“Other indicators are not going so well – the numbers of people in emergency housing are tracking upwards and we don’t have adequate housing supply.

“This will be an area of huge effort by the Government in the autumn.



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