Written Answers. - House Prices.

John Gormley

Question:

708 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government when the recommendations of the Kenny report of the 1970s will be implemented in view of the need for radical policy to ensure house prices are within the reach of average incomes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1706/99]

The majority report of the Committee on the Price of Building Land, commonly referred to as the Kenny report (1973), recommended a scheme under which lands which had been increased in price by local authority works and which were in areas designated by the High Court could be acquired by local authorities and the owners compensated by reference to the existing use value plus 25 per cent.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Building Land Report (1985) did not favour the approach proposed in the Kenny report. With regard to the question of controlling the price of land required for housing and other forms of development, the joint commitee felt that the approach was too narrow. It was unduly concentrated on dealing with land prices, which the joint committee regarded as a symptom rather than a cause. With regard to the question of ensuring that some of the increase in value in land be secured for the benefit of the community, the joint committee felt that the Kenny recommendations would require an amendment to the Constitution.

The joint committee report addressed four main issues namely, the best use of land, the supply and cost of building land, the distribution of gains from increases in land values and the problems with policy on housing, urbanisation and construction. The committee made 28 recommendations. Effect has been given to some of the recommendations, for example, the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1990 reformed the compensation provisions of the planning code.

The Government Action on House Prices published last year adopted a three-pronged approach to increase the supply of serviced land, reduce excessive investor demand and assist lower income house purchasers. My Department is monitoring the impact of these actions. In addition, in the context of the review of the Planning Acts, consideration is being given to ways in which the planning system can support housing supply.