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*Social housing units in Feakle. Photograph: John Mangan

A housing shortage will be aggravated by the continued halt in construction, a Newmarket-on-Fergus representative has warned.

Clare County Council’s build programme has been impacted by the return of Level 5 restrictions at the beginning of the year. The target of achieving 94 units of accommodation is “no longer fully achievable,” a senior official within the local authority admitted.

Last year, 145 units of social housing were delivered by the local authority through the capital delivery programme. “The restrictions are also impacting developments which are not at construction stage in that necessary site investigations cannot be undertaken at this time,” Director of Social Development Anne Haugh stated.

Approval to acquire 31 units was received last year with number of permissible acquisitions described as limiting. “As of today the targets for acquisitions in 2021 have not yet been set however it is anticipated that the deficit in delivery under new build as a result of the closure of sites will have to be met in some way by an increased acquisitions programme. Confirmation of this from the Department of Housing is currently awaited,” Haugh outlined.

New housing targets for Clare will be set under the Housing for All multi-annual housing programme due to be published by the Government in the second quarter of this year.

Detail on the impact of COVID-19 on the Council’s housing programme was sought by Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) at Monday’s meeting of the local authority.

“We are all aware of the people waiting on houses and our list is getting longer,” he said due to the restrictions on construction.

McMahon believed changes to working arrangements will have to be introduced. “What is wrong with longer days of working or weekends, no new initiative will suit traditional thinking. There is no plan B to initiate new incentives to give leeway in the private sector to work longer and on weekends, I’ve never seen it in modern history. Everything will go back a year plus which will aggravate the problem”.

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