Government need to "update and modernise" infrastructure in the upcoming budget to account for Ireland's recent surge in population.
That's according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), who is meeting with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure today to discuss its pre-budget recommendations for accelerating housing delivery.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, CIF Director General Hubert Fitzpatrick said there will be five key recommendations for budget submissions made today.
"One is resourcing the planning system," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"Secondly, infrastructure and regional development, initiatives on the housing supply issue, the youth sustainability, and then lastly, cultivating people with skills and capacity."
Mr Fitzpatrick said Ireland is "in a unique situation" in Europe.
"With a population growth of 8% at the last Census reading in 2022, we now have a population of 5.15 million people," he said.
"We have the fastest growing population, perhaps the youngest population in Europe and we need to ensure and the public needs to ensure that we have an infrastructure plan that can meet the needs of that growing and growing population.
"If we look at our National Development Plan for 2021 to 2030, it's not really reflective of the recent population growth we've had, nor does it reflect some of the inflationary pressures we've had in the sector over the last number of years."
As a result of these new pressures, Mr Fitzpatrick said Government need to "upgrade and modernise" Ireland's infrastructures as required in the upcoming budget.
"We've had a problem in the National Development Plan where we've had significant carryover of expenditure that has not been spent from year to year," he said.
"We need the entire system – the Planning and Procurement system – to be properly resourced to ensure that the ambitious capital expenditure funding programme is implemented over the years."
The Government’s current target is to build 33,000 new units on average per year until 2030. However, there are currently over 70,000 units with full planning permission that have not been built.
In August, the European Commission urged the Government to “substantially” increase its housing targets.
Mr Fitzpatrick said there has been a "major problem" with the viability of housing schemes.
"Thankfully, the Government have introduced quite a number of measures over the past number of years and months to actually improve the viability of a residential building," he said.
"If we look at the commencement activity for the first six months of this year compared to last year, the commencement activity is up nearly 10% and we also see an increase in completions of nearly 6%.
"We will continue to look at viability and where there are viability challenges ... some of those may relate to affordability but they may also relate to infrastructure.
"We must ensure that there's water services, transport services, energy, serving all of these developments."
This morning, The Irish Independent reported the Government's Shared Equity Scheme for first-time buyers could be extended to secondhand homes in next month's budget.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the "key objective" of the scheme was to stimulate new or additional housing supply.
"I think the priority of any of the Government schemes must be to ensure that we can increase the new stock of housing that's available to purchasers and increase the options available to buyers of new properties," he said.
"If we can increase supply that is actually going to support addressing our housing problems going forward."