July 2012


The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the small area population statistics (SAPS) from the 2011 census. For the first time users will now have access to the full set of census variables at the Electoral Division (ED) and new Small Area (SA) level across Ireland. Over the last couple of weeks the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO) has been working closely with the CSO to provide the public with a new set of mapping tools that will allow users take full advantage of the incredible amount of census data now available. This is a major step forward for evidence informed planning in Ireland and users (general public, public sector and private sector) now have access to a free and fully interactive set of on-line tools to get a better understanding of areas and regions across the country. Through AIRO we have developed a National Census Mapping Viewer and a set of individual census mapping tools for every Local and Regional Authority in the country. To get access to the main AIRO census home page use the following link: http://www.airo.ie/mapping-module/census

National Census Mapping Viewer

On the National Census Mapping Viewer (airomaps.nuim.ie/census2011) we have prepared maps for over 130 variables and have grouped them into the following 14 themes: Population, Religion, Nationality, Education, Social Class, Principal Economic Status, Industry of Employment, Occupation, Housing, Cars per Households, Transport, Communications, Health and Disability. For this mapping tool we are using ArcGIS Viewer for Flex from ESRI, a really useful mapping technology when you are dealing with a very large number of geographical boundaries (3,406 EDs and approx 18k SAs). At present we have just included the mapping at electoral division (ED) level on the national viewer, this will be updated with the full set of small area (SA) data in the coming weeks. We have, however, added unemployment data at SA level for today’s launch and so is the first time that we actually see the full scale of the unemployment problem at the very local level.

To use the tool users simply turn on a theme on the left hand panel and then ‘check’ the map of interest. Remember that you can only show one map at a time with the top checked layer being the one on display – it might take a few moments to get the hang of it but it’s fairly straight forward. To get more information about an area just click on an ED and a pop-up window will provide a very short and basic commentary and a graphic providing more information on the variable. Let’s have a look at some examples:

% Population Aged > 65 plus: This map provides a useful visualization of the distribution of the elderly population across Ireland. As expected we are seeing much higher proportions of elderly population within EDs in rural and peripheral parts of the country.

% population UK by Nationality: The nationality data available at the ED and SA level is broken down into six groupings, users can choose from Irish, UK, Polish, Lithuanian, Other EU 27 or Rest of the World. Each map provides interesting trends and certainly shows some fascinating patterns within urban areas. The map below details the distribution of those whose nationality is classed as UK. What’s striking about this map is the clear pattern of high percentages in south-west cork, north-east Clare/south Galway and a wider area of higher percentages in the Roscommon/Leitrim/Mayo area.

% of Households with Central Heating powered by Peat: There are more than 25 different variables within the housing theme on our national viewer. Maps are available on:

  • type of housing unit (detached, semi-d, flat/apartment etc)
  • age of housing unit (only 2000 to 2005 and post 2006 included at the moment – let us know if you’d like more)
  • tenure (owner occupied, rented etc)
  • type of water supply (group scheme, private scheme etc)
  • type of sewage system (public scheme, individual septic tank etc)
  • and type of fuel used for central heating system.

This last category provides some really interesting maps and shows very clear patterns throughout the country for particular types of fuel. The map below shows the distribution of households that use Peat (including turf) as the primary source of fuel for central heating systems with higher proportions in the midlands and along the western seaboard and then an almost complete absence of use in much of the rest of the country.

Local and Regional Authority Mapping Modules:

As part of the AIRO project and our growing infrastructure of free mapping tools we have now updated all of our Local Authority and Regional Authority mapping modules with the 2011 Census data for Electoral Divisions. The data within each mapping tool mimic the themes that are available for download from the CSO. In total, each mapping module now has 975 individual variables (raw counts and pre calculated percentages and ratios) and includes data from 2006 where possible. Over the next week we will start to build in the Small Area data for each LA/RA, all going well this will be done by Thursday 9th of August. We are also hoping to update all of the mapping modules for Local Partnerships but this may take some time.

To access the mapping modules go to the main AIRO census page (click here) and choose from the drop down list for either LA or RA. Just click View once you’ve made your selection. Once it’s loaded you simply just click on ‘data’ and choose your indicator and away you go.

We hope you enjoy the new tools and they prove to be useful for the work that you do. We’re happy to take comments and suggestions on additional datasets that should also be included. We’re also planning to run a number of training sessions in the coming weeks and months, again please get in touch if you or your organisation are interested.

For further information please contact AIRO at the following: email – airo@nuim.ie, phone – 353 1 7086688

Links:

AIRO National Census Mapping Viewer: airomaps.nuim.ie/census2011

Local and Regional Authority Mapping Modules: http://www.airo.ie/mapping-module/census

CSO SAPSMap data download site: http://census.cso.ie/sapmap

Justin Gleeson & Aoife Dowling

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The CSO’s residential property price index for June was published yesterday.  After a slight rise of 0.2% in prices nationally in May, the index fell by -1.1% in June.  So after the speculation in the media that property prices might have levelled off, especially in Dublin, it’s back to wondering when they might bottom out.  Last month we argued that we would need 6-9 months of prices staying even or rising slightly before the bottom could be called, that the rise was very marginal at 0.2% and prices were still falling for apartments, and pointed out that as prices have fallen since the peak in 2007 they have gone through periods where the drops have slowed down before falling again (see the interactive graph produced by AIRO).  In other words, not too much should be read into last month’s data as we need a time-series of data before we can talk about a trend with confidence.

There are also other reasons to be cautious about interpreting the data, which are based on mortgage transactions by eight lenders and constitute a three month rolling average.   Here are five of them.

First, because the market is so weak the number of transactions per month is relatively small.  Second, those transactions relate to a market that is not representative of the full range of stock that would be open to the market in normal conditions.  The present market contains a lot of distressed stock and many homeowners are keeping their properties off the market whilst prices are falling.  Third, as yet, the index does not include cash sales which the property sector are suggesting account for up to 30% of the market.  Fourth, due to the first three reasons the CSO itself warns that the index is subject to short-term volatility (“care should still be taken when interpreting monthly figures which may indicate short-term volatility rather than underlying change in longer term price trends”).

Fifth, the data are very circumscribed geographically providing an overview at the national scale, for Dublin only, and nationally excluding Dublin.  The housing market is geographically segmented and becoming more so in the crash.  Areas vary in the type and quality of stock available.  They have varying economic conditions, labour market activity and rates of unemployment.  They have different demographic trends, with some areas experiencing out-migration.  Those looking to buy in different areas have varying access to mortgage credit and some areas are redlined (it is just about impossible to get a mortgage for an apartment outside the four principle cities).  Areas have different rates of oversupply.  Housing vacancy is above 10% just about everywhere except Dublin, Kildare and Meath.  Apartment vacancy is above 18% everywhere and above 40% in a number of local authorities.  As constituted, the CSO index tells us very little with respect to how the market is spatially segmented.  The best data we have for that is the AIRO/DAFT house price mapping tool that provides asking price data 2007-2012 for 2, 3, 4 bed properties for c.1100 areas.  What that data shows is that the range of asking price drops varies from -35% to -65% across the country dependent on the factors above.

So where does that leave us?  Basically, as the CSO itself notes, care needs to be taken when interpreting the RPPI.  Whilst the index provides us with a good long-term overview of the trend in prices nationally and in Dublin, we should be careful not to read too much into monthly figures without putting them into the context of the longer trend and the various limitations with the data.  Moreover, we should be careful about drawing conclusions about local prices from the generalized large-scale aggregations (a classic ecological fallacy issue).  As the AIRO/DAFT data illustrates, National/Dublin aggregated figures are hiding a lot of local variability.  Hopefully, the new house price register might help, though it will not extend back to the peak in 2007 (it will start with 2010).

What is clear from the long-term trend is that prices have fallen substantially from the peak and they are still very fragile and are liable to fall further.  It is only with a run of data where prices are level or rising that the bottom can be called (and the depth of the bottom and its timing will vary around the country depending on the factors above).  Any attempt to call the bottom before then and to talk up the market will be premature.

Rob Kitchin

New paper by NIRSA folk at NUI Maynooth/QUB.

Placing neoliberalism: the rise and fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger, by Rob Kitchin, Cian O’Callaghan, Mark Boyle, Justin Gleeson and Karen Keaveney

Abstract.In this paper we provide an account of the property-led boom and bust which has brought Ireland to the point of bankruptcy. Our account details the pivotal role which neoliberal policy played in guiding the course of the country’s recent history, but also heightens awareness of the how the Irish case might, in turn, instruct and illuminate mappings and explanations of neoliberalism’s concrete histories and geographies. To this end, we begin by scrutinising the terms and conditions under which the Irish state might usefully be regarded as neoliberal. Attention is then given to uncovering the causes of the Irish property bubble, the housing oversupply it created, and the proposed solution to this oversupply. In the conclusion we draw attention to the contributions which our case study might make to the wider literature of critical human geographies of neoliberalism, forwarding three concepts which emerge from the Irish story which may have wider resonance, and might constitute a useful fleshing out of theoretical framings of concrete and particular neoliberalisms: path amplification, neoliberalism’s topologies and topographies, and accumulation by repossession.

Published in Environment and Planning A 44(6): 1302 – 1326

PDF: EPA Placing Neoliberalism 2012

From the 17th to the 26th July, 2012, a number of contributors to the IAN blog will guest blog on the Pivot Dublin website. Pivot Dublin was established as the bid for World Design Capital in 2014, for which it was the losing finalist to Capetown. The Pivot website has been continued as a means of promoting the role of design in Dublin. The guest blogs aim to connect some broader questions around urban social change with the role of design, tackling issues such as the role of vacancy in the future of the city, city branding, the role of particular narratives in the city, and, finally, means by which the city can be reinterpreted through a variety of everyday actions.

17th July: ‘The Unintended Consequences of the Best Intentions’, Philip Lawton

18th July: ‘City (Meta)Marketing and the Search for the Urban ‘Real’’, Cian O’Callaghan

23rd July: ‘Beyond the ludic city – design and social innovation in Dublin’, Denis Linehan

24th July: ‘3 ways to use your body to Hack Dublin City’, Fearghal O’Nuallain

Philip Lawton

There has been some recent talk in the Dail and the media about the extent to which Ireland’s vacant housing stock could solve the social housing waiting list and save the state half-a-billion euros worth of rent supplement payments per annum.  To what extent is this wishful thinking?

In principle it looks like vacant housing stock should be the answer to the social housing waiting list.  There are 98,318 households on the waiting list and 230,056 housing units vacant in the country (excluding holiday homes) according to Census 2011.  However, both figures are composed of a variety of types of household and housing units that deny a simple matching up.

The 98,318 households on the waiting list are composed of the following categories: 65,643 persons unable to reasonably meet the cost of the accommodation they are occupying; 9,548 persons in need of accommodation for medical or compassionate grounds; 8,534 persons sharing accommodation involuntarily; 4,594 persons living in overcrowded accommodation; 2,348 homeless persons; 2,226 older persons; 1,824 Travellers; 1,708 persons living in accommodation that is unfit or materially unsuitable; 1,315 persons with a disability; and 538 young people living in institutional care or without family accommodation.

The 230,056 vacant housing units consist of 18,638 unsold, vacant units on unfinished estates owned by developers or banks, a few thousand unsold, vacant one-off houses, and c.200,000 units in private ownership  that consist of units presently for sale or available for rent, empty bereavement properties, vacant investment properties, units where owner is in long-term nursing care or retirement home, or empty due to short-term or long-term migration.  In addition, there are another 8,794 nearly complete units and 9,078 under-construction units on unfinished estates.

On the one hand then, we have 65,643 people in suitable accommodation which they can’t afford, along with 13,129 people (medical condition, disabled persons, older persons) that need specialist or sheltered accommodation.  On the other, we have a stock of vacant units that are universally in private hands (either owned by an individual or a company), are not designed for social or sheltered housing, and are often in places unsuitable for social housing tenants (they lack public transport, social facilities and access to employment).   A small proportion of this vacant stock are in unfinished estates and these are owned by developers and banks, only a small proportion of whom are in NAMA (a large number of unfinished estates were funded by foreign-owned banks).  The means for the state to presently access this unfinished estate stock is the Social Housing Leasing Initiative.

Put simply, vacant stock is privately-owned (even in cases where the loan is with a state bank or NAMA) meaning there are only two options with respect to moving people on the social housing waiting list – move them into other private accommodation reliant on rent supplement or into private accommodation reliant on the social housing leasing initiative.  Neither is going to save the state much money as the state does not own the property and does not have any excess stock of its own.  Moreover, the latter will leave empty private rental stock in its wake whose buy-to-let mortgages will start to default, placing more pressure on the state-guaranteed banking sector.  In other words, vacant stock is not the answer to the social housing waiting list; it’s just moving people around privately owned stock.

Ultimately, the only solution to the social housing waiting list is for the state to build or buy social housing units, or to accept that the 65,643 private rental sector units that are presently unaffordable for tenants is de facto social housing stock held in private hands.  The only solution to vacancy is household growth, so that supply and demand equalise.

Rob Kitchin (@robkitchin)

Yesterday, the planning minister, Jan O’Sullivan TD, launched the Final Report of the Advisory Group on Unfinished Housing Developments.  The headline news is that 211 estates, 1 in 10, have been ‘resolved’.   Whilst it is welcome that some progress has been made with respect to unfinished estates, it is profoundly depressing that five years after the crash started, and the unfinished estates problem emerged, that so little progress has been made and the residents of 9 out of 10 estates are still living with ongoing issues (unfinished and unsafe units, poor roads and paths, no street lights, inadequate sewage systems, vandalised structures, and so on).

As the DECLG uses it, resolution is a contextual term.  It does not mean that the all the issues on an estate have been resolved.  The fact that only 75 of the 211 resolved estates have been taken in charge indicates that there are still outstanding issues preventing the local authority from taking over the management of the estate.  What DECLG means by resolution is largely addressing health and safety issues – boarding up, fencing off, filling in, fixing up – but not undertaking construction to complete buildings and finish off estates.  With a budget of just €5m to try and deal with the problems on the 2,066 estates that have outstanding building works, this is no surprise.  The strategy here is to make secure and mothball and to wait for the market to recover to deal with the bigger construction issues.

There are site resolution plans in place for 523 estates, but the remainder await attention.  €3.2m of €5m fund has been allocated for 128 of the worst estates.  29 estates are being dealt with by NAMA, and 20 are being looked at by the Health and Safety authority.  Enforcement proceedings are being undertaken against the developers of 636 estates.  Worryingly, it has not been possible to make contact with the developers of 140 estates.  Moreover, there is an uneven geography to site resolution – DLR have resolved 45 of 61 estates; Roscommon and Sligo which both have over 230 problem estates have resolved 14 and 4 estates each.

In sum, what the report indicates is that the government approach to unfinished estates has been a low effort, voluntaristic, minimal cost approach which gives the impression of policy-at-work, but to a large degree pushes the problem down the road to be hopefully corrected at a later date by the market.  In many areas that market correction is not going to happen any time soon due to oversupply.  In the meantime, estates wither on the vine and their residents continue to live with a variety of issues.

Rob Kitchin

 

Today marks the launch of the Daft.ie/AIRO property value interactive map tool, put together by Ronan Lyons (Oxford University) and Justin Gleeson (AIRO/NIRSA, NUI Maynooth). The system provides the first, detailed localised view of the property market in Ireland based on 1.1 million daft.ie property records (the CSO residential property price index divides the data into national and Dublin only).

Importantly, it provides comparable data from 2007-2012, allowing us to see the change in sales and rental prices and expected yield over the course of the crash for 2, 3 and 4 bed properties (the new government house price database when it is released will only provide data concerning 2010 onwards). Sales data is provided for 1,117 areas, rental data for 312 areas, and yields for 4,509 areas. The method for calculating the average price per area is set out in this paper by Ronan Lyons.  The methodology used makes each area comparable by controlling for differences in properties (such as type and size), and it should be noted that each area covers a range of locales and provides an average drop in price.

The tool is fully interactive and free to use; to access it go to www.daft.ie/research  To get detail on any area click on it and a pop-up box will appear providing data about that locale.  Scroll down the pop-up box to see a graph relating to the area.  If you hover over the bars in the graph the specific data will appeal.

The data is broadly in line with the CSO data re. total price drop, but shows the variance across the country. Nearly all areas in the range -40 to -60% (a reasonably large range).  A few areas are above -60%, and a few below -40%.  What the data reveals that there are local markets operating across country reflecting local conditions.  Whilst the data are asking prices they are very strongly reflective of actual sales price (which the property sector generally reports as being between 10-15% less than asking price) and shows relative prices and change across country as the data is consistent across space and time.

Hopefully the server will hold up this morning as people try out the tool.  If you have difficulty getting access, please try again later.  Also check out the dozens of other mapping and data visualisation tools on the AIRO website.

Rob Kitchin (@robkitchin) and Justin Gleeson (@AIRO_NUIM) (Ronan is on twitter at @ronanlyons)