For Oral Answer on : 28/09/2021
Question Number(s): 139 Question Reference(s): 46442/21
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the constraints leading to delays and blockages in the provision of housing; the actions being taken by his Department to overcome these constraints and blockages; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I believe Housing for All : A New Housing Plan for Ireland will transform our housing system, removing the constraints leading to delays and blockages in the provision of housing. In particular, the actions set out under Pathway 3 of the Plan, “Increasing New Housing Supply”, will create the environment needed to enable the supply of over 300,000 new homes by 2030, meaning an annual average of at least 33,000 homes per year.
Crucially, the Plan is backed by historic levels of investment with in excess of €20bn through the Exchequer, the Land Development Agency (LDA) and the Housing Finance Agency over the next 5 years. This will provide the sector with the stability and certainty it needs.
In order to ensure there is a sufficient supply of homes across the country, each Local Authority has been given Housing Supply Targets. These, together with updated planning guidance, will ensure sufficient land is zoned for housing. The Government will support this by providing additional State lands to the LDA, capable of delivering up to 15,000 homes. Local authorities will also be funded to acquire additional land so that they can deliver social and affordable homes at scale.
In addition, Housing for All tasks the LDA, through Project Tosaigh, with intervening in slow or stalled developments on non-State lands, through an open and transparent process, designed to ascertain the potential for it to enter into strategic partnerships with landowners in order to unlock and accelerate the delivery of affordable homes.
In tandem with these measures to incentivise the bringing forward of supply, there is a need to balance this with penalties for non-activation of sites. In this regard, the Minister for Finance will bring forward a new tax to activate vacant land for residential purposes (to replace the current vacant site levy).
I am also cognisant that the planning system must be reformed to ensure that there is certainty and stability for those providing housing in Ireland. Under Housing for All the Strategic Housing Development Process will be replaced with new planning arrangements for large-scale residential developments. Such reforms will make decision-making on these developments more efficient whilst returning primary decision-making to the local level.
The judicial review process will also be reformed and planning legislation will be reviewed to ensure the planning system is plan-led, has greater public acceptance and reflects the needs of existing and new populations.
In the shorter term, I want to see non-activated planning permissions activated. In this regard, the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Fund will stimulate such activation for apartment developments of four floors or more, above certain densities and these apartments will be for sale to owner occupiers.
Finally, the delivery an average of 33,000 homes per year requires an expansion of the current workforce. Through the actions laid out in Housing for All industry will be supported in returning existing workers to full employment and there will be proactive engagement with international labour where supply is unavailable locally. There will also be a ramp-up in education and training opportunities, including commitments regarding programmes and apprenticeships and delivery of new courses.
Housing for All takes a genuine whole of Government approach to creating a long-term, sustainable housing system for Ireland. I am confident that the breadth of measures and reforms therein will remove impediments to progress and provide for the much-needed delivery of homes at scale.