In this, our final episode, we’re asking: why aren’t we building the right homes for people? Why aren’t they the right shape or size, why aren’t they in the right place, and why do they cost so much? To answer those questions, we’ll have to get down to the foundations of how housing works here, and if we’re talking about foundations, well, we’ll have to talk about land.
The availability, the suitability, and the price of land are among the most important factors in determining the quality and quantity of housing in the city. For over half a century, the question of how to effectively regulate and contain land values has hung over all national housing policy.
You can trace a line from the Kenny Report of 1973, through the culture of corruption depicted in the evidence of the Mahon Tribunal, through to the Land Development Agency today. At every stage, land is the central concern – what we make of it, and what we don’t.
This episode starts by looking at how land affects housing delivery, in both the public and private sectors, before touching on the constraints of the construction industry. It’s an episode focused on the practical side of building homes, and the obstacles which stand in the way of that objective.
As we got to the end of this episode, and so this series, I began to think of how much had to be left out – how many facts and figures, how many stories, how many problems. When you really start to look at this area, there’s just no end to what you can find. On every other street, it seems, there’s evidence of another bottleneck, another failure, another hold-up.
What we’ve presented here in this podcast is just an overview; a couple of topics that we felt worth digging into, but nothing like a comprehensive investigation. That’ll have to wait. For now, I only hope that this series has given you something to think about, or at least some new ways of thinking about what you already knew.
Before signing off for the last time, I’d like to thank all the musicians who contributed their wonderful music to the series: Gavin Prior, Sean MacErlaine, Sias, Cian Nugent, Letna, Jo Johnson, and Chris Zabriskie. Please do check out (and buy!) their records.