The real estate market is only building for the top 10 percent of double earners and the top 1 percent of single earners, and the “spin” of the construction sector must be questioned, the national conference of social democrats was told.

UCD Assistant Professor of Architecture Orla Hegarty emphasized the need for the “missing middle” properties, including townhouses and mid-sized apartments.

In a presentation to up to 700 delegates, she proposed a regional development plan of EUR 1 million per city to renovate and retrofit 20 upper floors and vacant units in regional cities that could create long-term jobs, gain a foothold and build sustainable communities.

Prof. Hegarty said this option could be used for direct housing provision, homelessness and for one-, two- and three-person households on waiting lists for housing that are not prioritized.

However, the more than 3,000 co-living developments should not “suddenly be directed into homeless or direct-care shelters because they only save problems for the future”.

She also warned of the need to protect itself from the state taking over very dense public housing rental blocks, “which are of poor standard and affect people’s mental and physical health and are very difficult to maintain in the long term ”.

The conference also heard from a delegate from Kildare North who said that in the past 18 months developing land had sold for € 892,000 to € 1.2 million an acre, 57 times the price of agricultural land at € 14,000 an acre.

Delegates agreed to a motion to endorse the 50-year-old Kenny Report, which recommended mandatory land purchase orders at current value plus 25 percent, which would cost a Kildare acre at € 17,500.

The party’s housing spokesman, Cian O’Callaghan, suggested the government’s equity capital program, warned by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the central bank, that would raise prices.

Prof. Hegarty highlighted spin in a number of areas, including density, saying “We have the wrong choice between suburban sprawl” or the only other option for small, high-rise apartments.

“There are two products on the market that are quite lucrative for developers,” but what is needed is the “missing center – the in-between of sustainable densities in the kind of houses people want to live in”.

“Sustainable densities”

These include terraced houses, medium-sized apartments and the “densification of the existing suburbs as well as the construction of new suburbs and sustainable densities with affordable outdoor space”.

In this sustainable system, people “don’t go everywhere, but they don’t go to the 11th floor either”.

The Social Democrats co-leaders, Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy. File photo: Dara Mac Dónaill

In a presentation at the National Conference of Social Democrats, she said that people are also questioning their lifestyles, but the trick is that “Millennials eat at work, they don’t need a kitchen. People don’t need daylight on the balconies because when they come home it’s dark or they go out in the evening to socialize. “

She said, “This is a marketing lifestyle for a very specific segment of the population who at some point in their life are high earners.”

Prof. Hegarty said this was not representative of community needs when she pointed to Dublin’s northern city center, “where about half of the houses have only one bedroom”.

She also said that the real estate sector is facing high costs. What they are really saying is that “we need subsidies to deliver what we want to provide”.

She said that “in the same week the industry cost € 371,000 to develop a three-bed house in Dublin. The same real estate sector is selling the same house for less than € 270,000 in Wexford and for € 250,000 in the Central Plateau.”

More spin included standards that had to be dropped for reasons of affordability. “That was really detrimental, but it not only lowered space standards, it also lowered fire safety standards, daylight standards, and all these public health implications,” she said.

“Ventilation is so important to the spread of Covid, but there has been no discussion that a two-bedroom apartment to be built for rent now has 20 percent less air volume than a two-bedroom apartment to be built To Sell “and” To Have Hundreds The number of people sharing a small number of elevators is a public health issue. “

The pandemic was an “enormous opportunity” for qualified construction workers who would otherwise have emigrated in order to have long-term employment in the renovation and retrofitting of upper floors of business premises and vacant properties.

During a question-and-answer session, Prof. Hegarty said she was not an anti-developer. “We need to create more incentives for smaller developers,” she said in those areas.

On the opening night of the Conference of Social Democrats on Friday, party delegates overwhelmingly supported a motion to pursue options for growth in Northern Ireland.

A working group will be set up to examine all options, carry out extensive consultations and produce a report with recommendations for the next step, which may include changing the current policy of not holding elections.