Tag Archives: developers



Um.

This morning.

Croke Park, Dublin.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Construction Conference sponsored by the Sunday Business Post where he spoke to delegates of the Construction Industry Federation.

Via The Irish Times:

Mr Varadkar told the conference  the Government would publish a new planning bill shortly.

He acknowledged that it was frustrating for builders and planners to see good projects end up facing sometimes “vexatious” judicial reviews in the High Court.

“That’s something, in my view, that’s going to have to change and this bill will change it,” the Taoiseach pledged.

Good times.

Varadkar promises law to block ‘vexatious’ planning challenges (Irish Times)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Fintan O’Toole, left, and Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen

In recent weeks Fintan O’Toole has at great length called upon the people of Ireland to follow him in adopting a more challenging and complex view of identity.

It is therefore surprising that he should so soon afterwards have chosen to write Tuesday’s crass and superficial commentary on Fianna Fáil’s housing policy.

Instead of addressing the full policy, he unfortunately chose to caricature one element of it and compare it to an unclear story about the purchase of a pub a quarter of a century ago.

Because Fintan O’Toole decided that there was no need to complicate his piece with any context or extra information, let me explain what we have been talking about concerning increasing house supply.

We have for a number of years been pointing to the inevitability of the housing emergency that has grown because of the neglect and lack of basic planning by the Fine Gael government.

This applies to every type of housing – from private rental and social housing to owner-occupier.

The decision of Fine Gael and Labour ministers to effectively abandon the social and affordable housing sector has caused particular destruction – with there being in place today 6,000 fewer social houses than there would be if the rate of building in 2010 had been maintained (just 2,400 have been built since 2011).

This is not to mention the damage done by their decision to reduce by half the Part V obligation on developers (which provided 16,000 new social and affordable homes) and to abolish all affordable housing schemes for low- and middle-income workers in 2012.

The sole objective of our policy is to increase the supply of more affordable housing and we have proposed a wide range of measures to achieve this. This prioritises the interests of individuals and families, not builders or developers.

These include a return to the building of significant numbers of social and affordable houses by local authorities and approved housing bodies. But we cannot ignore the role of the private sector.

The reality is that the State will never be able to build enough social and affordable housing to accommodate housing needs of all low- and middle-income households. It is fantasy to suggest otherwise.

This is why we proposed to directly incentivise the construction of units (houses or apartments) to be sold below affordable price points.

This would involve the application of the special rate of VAT (9 per cent rate) only on residential properties sold below an affordability threshold, such as €350,000 to €400,000.

A unit sold above the affordability threshold would not be able to claim special rate VAT reduction.

We still need economic analysis from the Department of Housing to assess the full impact of this on the market and what the cost to the exchequer would be. While we have asked for the specific information, it has not been provided.

The department costing of €240 million of our proposal is overblown as our special rate VAT reduction is proposed only for units sold below an affordability threshold, whereas the department costing is for all residential units.

To suggest that this is some dark, corrupt idea is absurd. If Fintan O’Toole wants to argue that it wouldn’t work he is welcome to do so, but this type of ad hominem attack is not what one would expect from the holder of a George Orwell award for commentary.

Barry Cowen TD,
Tullamore,
Co Offaly.

FF, housing policy and the builders (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: Like Nothing Has Happened

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.16.38

You may recall a post from last week in relation to Cork developer Michael O’Flynn and how his loans are being sold by Nama to global private equity firm Blackstone.

It has been reported that Mr O’Flynn owed his banks €1.8 billion when he entered Nama in 2009, and has now left Nama owing Blackstone €1.1 billion.

Mr O’Flynn also remains in control of his property business.

Further to this, Business Editor of the Irish Times, John McManus recalls how Nama was pitched to the Irish electorate back in 2009 – suggesting that the late former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and former Taoiseach Brian Cowen either didn’t understand how Nama would work or deliberately misled the Irish public.

He writes:

It’s pretty clear that the two men [Cowen and Lenihan] either did not understand what Nama was and how it was going to work or instead played fast and loose with the truth in order to get the Nama legislation over the over the line. One suspects it was the latter. 

…what did turn out to be at best a fib was the claim that Nama would operate in a way that would make it impossible for the developers who took out the loans to benefit from the writedowns. The Nama legislation did include a clause that the developers could not buy their loans back from Nama but, as we have seen, it was not possible to prevent them having a continued interest in the underlying business and assets once the debt had been written down and sold off by Nama.

Nama pragmatism before action to benefit developers (Irish Times)

Previously: ‘Sucked Up By The Taxpayer’

AvocaYeah, you.

Mad isn’t it?

And how much do property developers owe local authorities across the country in unpaid development fees.

€750 million.

A figure revealed in response to a question from Fine Gael TD Simon Harris on foot of Wicklow County Council attempts to pursue homeowners in Brook Meadow, Avoca, Co Wicklow (above) several weeks ago to pay outstanding development fees.

The council wanted every households to pay it €2,500 each.

However, the move was averted after the property developer made an agreement with the council.

Who will be next is anyone’s guess.

*emails Daft*

Property Developers Owe Local Authorities Over €750m In Levies, RTÉ)

(Pic: Wicklow News)

Property developers Paddy Shovlin, of the Beacon Hospital, and brothers Patrick and Anthony Fitzpatrick, of the Fitzpatrick hotel family, speculated on the 100-acre Beacon Quarter Development in Sandyford (above).

They borrowed millions from Bank of Ireland.

And then came the crash.

But, for some reason, the bank wanted less than 5 per cent back of what it was owed.

This afternoon in the Commercial Court, Justice Peter Kelly granted (in favour of NAMA) an order of €38.5m against Paddy and orders of €22m each against the brothers.

He said it seemed “rather odd” to him that in the case of a loan of €280m granted to the men, Bank of Ireland had reduced the amount of money it could reclaim to less than 5% of the total owed.

The judge said that he did not know why the bank would do such a thing, but he said “no doubt NAMA could find out what the answer was”.

While you hold your breath for that to happen just imagine you asked your bank to reduce your mortgage to less than 5 per cent of its value.

Now imagine them laughing.

Court Orders €82 million To Be Repaid To Nama (RTE.ie)

Update: In 2008, as things were slowing down, the Beacon trio gave themselves a €1 million pension boost, just as they had the year before.