Speed of new housing delivery in Kilkenny causing considerable frustrations

Sam Matthews: Work on city's western environs was to begin last year

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



Housing construction

Figures from Kilkenny County Council show 717 planning applications were granted in the period up to December 2017. There were 744 in the same period the previous year

The speed at which new houses are being delivered in Kilkenny is causing considerable frustration for people in urgent need of housing, and for the local councillors who represent them.

That frustration was evident at last week’s council meeting, when a number of councillors asked why housing could not be delivered any faster on the former brewery site, and asked for updates on the proposals for the city’s western environs. The Abbey Quarter design code seeks to provide that between 30% and 35% of development on the site be residential. We don’t know yet what the ratio of private housing to social housing will be, but so far suggestions indicate it will have elements of both.

There are over 2,000 people on the housing waiting list in Kilkenny. The figure underscores the need for urgent social housing construction, but the private sector hasn’t even been coming close to bridging the gap.

Figures from Kilkenny County Council show that fewer planning applications were received in the period to December last year (871) compared to the same period in 2016 (883). And, while 717 planning applications were granted in the period up to December 2017, there were 744 the previous year.

The problem is that the take-off in building is heavily concentrated in Dublin and surrounding counties. Figures from the GeoView Residential Buildings Report, recently published in the Kilkenny People, show that new builds in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow accounted for more than seven in every ten houses built last year.

Just 182 dwellings in Kilkenny were added to the GeoDirectory database in 2017. That’s less than 1% of the national total of new addresses.

Meanwhile, the price of an average three-bed semi-detached house increased comparatively more in Kilkenny than anywhere else in the country last year, according to a national survey carried out by Real Estate Alliance.

The price here rose an incredible 23.3% in the last 12 months. After prices increased by 3% between September and December 2017, local agents have predicted that property values will rise by a further 10% in the county in the coming year.

In Kilkenny City alone, prices rose by 27.4% in 2017. Local agent REA Boyd is predicting the continuing shortage of supply will increase prices by about 15% in the next year.

While this is a concern for anyone looking to buy a property, it’s also deeply worrying for anyone living in rented accommodation. Many tenants live in constant fear that it’s only a matter of time before their landlord sells up and leaves them with nowhere to live.

Those in this predicament will find themselves returning to a private rental market where prices have gone way beyond anything they can afford — if they can find anything. This of course leads to further strain being placed on the council’s housing stock, which as we know, is already under pressure, with no obvious easing on the way.

Chief executive of Kilkenny County Council Colette Byrne reminded members at last week’s meeting that the local authority has bought a number of sites to deliver housing. She says there are specific targets for 2018 , with the matter due to be discussed at the February meeting.

In December 2016, local councillors heard there was potential to provide for around 3,500 houses and two schools to the west of the city. That was followed in March last year by the announcement of funding under a local infrastructure programme, of which Kilkenny was a successful recipient.

Work on this project was due to begin before the end of last year. Planning permission and the compulsory purchase of lands is already in place, so hopefully we’ll see some shovels out there soon.