Thursday 21 March 2019

The right moves: Will Eircodes hurt values?

Pictured - Liam Duggan, director of Eircode, Minister for Communications Alex White TD
Pictured - Liam Duggan, director of Eircode, Minister for Communications Alex White TD

Paul McNeive

Developers and agents may already be assessing the possibilities arising from the new Eircode post code system and it will be interesting to see if the change has any affect on property values.

Value as we know is all about "location, location, location"-but what happens if your "location" changes! Developers have always sought to give their schemes the most upmarket address possible, sometimes stretching the boundaries of credibility, but the old Dublin city postcode always served as one factual brake on that.

Under the new system, however, there may be room for some creative thinking. For example, the upmarket locations of Killiney and Dalkey in Dublin, now have the same postcode (A96) as some of their longtime pretenders such as Dun Laoghaire, Sallynoggin and Ballybrack. Sites on the edges of Bray and Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow now rejoice in sharing their postcode location with picturesque Enniskerry and Powerscourt House.

Individual homeowners may also like to keep an eye on how the postcodes break down. On the north side of Dublin, for example, residents of Portmarnock will be given either a D13 (Dublin 13) postcode, or if their house is nearer to Malahide, they will get a K36 postcode. It will be interesting to see if one of those proves more desirable in the long term.

The construction of the M50 caused some revision of Dublin postcodes at the time and led to much controversy. Long standing townlands and parishes were divided by the route and subsequently developers chose the most attractive option to describe the location of their schemes. In one case, purchasers of houses in a large estate took a "class action" against the developer, claiming that they had bought their houses on the basis of the address attributed by the developer, which they then claimed was incorrect. The case was lost when the judge held that they had failed to prove any loss in the value of their houses, based on the perceived "inferior address."

Agents have long incorporated postcodes and infrastructure into the names of developments and watch out for some clever incorporation of the new "eircodes" into the names of some new commercial schemes around the country.

The local authorities have played a role in the decline of many of our city and town centres by making it difficult and expensive to bring cars into town centres. At the same time they granted planning permission for too many "out of town centres" where land is cheaper, so rents are cheaper, so prices are cheaper and where parking is free. Inevitably the town centres go into a spiral of decline. It's hard to know which part of this equation local authorities don't understand.

If ever proof of this dynamic were needed, the recent experience of the Welsh town of Cardigan is revealing. The four "pay and display" machines in the town centre were broken by thieves and have been inoperable since June. Town centre traders are now reporting a boom in business with many reporting that turnover is up by 50pc.

The chairman of Cardigan traders said: "What we have now is a level playing field. People who enjoyed free parking at supermarkets are finding they prefer going to small, independent shops. People are staying longer and spending more. It demonstrates what we've been saying for years, if you have lower parking fees..then people will come into town."

Local authorities rely on income from parking charges but the current situation discriminates against town centres and guarantees that they will decline further. Local authorities in suffering towns should implement free parking on certain days of the week, or perhaps for a trial period of three months. Traders can contribute by running promotions on "free parking days."

Rates are based on the rental value of business premises and inevitably, as business recovers in the town centre, rental values rise and rates income will increase too. More local authorities should run trial "free parking" projects.

Another "knife in the back" for town centres is the lack of security and my blood boils at the news going around the world this week of a tourist attacked on O'Connell Street,within two hours of arriving in Ireland. Did this happen because of the perception that there are few Gardai on the beat in the area? The Minister for Justice and Equality should be ashamed.

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