Architect’s Body Calls on Government to Invest Affordable Housing

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07 September 2023

Architect’s Body Calls on Government to Invest in Delivering Quality, Affordable Housing in Liveable Towns and Cities in Budget 2024

The RIAI is calling on the Government to use Budget 2024 as an opportunity to deliver quality and affordable homes in town and cities which are liveable for all.

The Institute is also seeking Government commitment and resourcing to deliver on Ireland’s National Policy on Architecture, Places for People and to progress activity to ensure Ireland meets its climate change targets.

Speaking in advance of the Budget 2024 announcement, Charlotte Sheridan, RIAI President said: “The actions set out in the RIAI pre budget submission will deliver quality in our built environment from our housing to our schools and workplaces all with a focus on Climate Change.   

We see Budget 2024 as a real opportunity for policymakers and industry to come together to address some of the biggest challenges of our time – from housing to climate change towards making a positive economic and societal impact.

Our submission gives the Government an opportunity to support and promote the delivery of much needed quality housing, drive innovation in climate change action, and promote innovation and research for the benefit of all.”

Key Recommendations

The RIAI submission contains a number of recommendations for inclusion in Budget 2024:

  • Provide dedicated fund to develop retrofit options for existing buildings.

Retrofitting and adapting an existing building is inherently more sustainable as the embodied carbon is re-used. Many owners do not have funding to explore the inherent potential of their building. The RIAI is calling for a dedicated fund to support the ‘feasibility stage’ to support the exploration of design options and identify funding streams.

  • Invest in 3-dimensional Development Plans for urban areas with structured involvement by the local community.

The RIAI are proposing a new model of plan preparation that entails a move away from the traditional 2-d representation of future development to a vision-led 3-d master-planning model that addresses issues of development quantum, place making and street hierarchies, building heights, green infrastructure and densification in a three-dimensional format, both digitally and interactively. This will increase engagement and better understanding by communities of the agreed future development in their areas by allowing them to visualise and engage with how new housing and development can be integrated into their community in such a way as to create a win-win for everyone.

  • Develop new sustainable guidelines for housing developments including for low-rise, medium-density housing.

This will create quality housing in low-rise settings with well-designed public realm. This type of housing is particularly suitable for creating mixed-use communities where young people, families and senior citizens will interact with each other. To support this type of housing the quality of the public realm is critical and must be embedded in the requirements.

  • Broaden access to essential professional services for homeowners by reducing the current VAT rate of 23% on professional services of architects to the minimum permitted by European regulation.

It is critical that homeowners get the right professional advice - a reduction in VAT would broaden access to Architects. Architects will advise on the optimum long-term solution to achieve sustainable homes.

  • Provide mechanisms to address inflation in Public Sector appointments.

Both the public and private construction sectors are currently operating in the face of unforeseen and extraordinary inflation. The current service contract agreement wording does not provide for dealing with these inflationary challenges for a public contracting authority. This can be addressed by guidance which should be issued on the public works consultants’ agreements as to how the procuring authority evaluate the impact of these inflationary trends in current market conditions.

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