Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (38, 39, 40)

Gay Mitchell

Question:

161 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of houses to be made available as part of Sustaining Progress affordable housing in each of the local authorities in the greater Dublin area; the location of each of these developments; the number and type of housing units at each location; the proposed completion date; the projected cost of the units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2699/04]

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Pádraic McCormack

Question:

194 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress which has been made to date to build the 10,000 houses promised as part of Sustaining Progress. [2847/04]

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Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

199 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made to date with regard to the details of the agreement reached with the trade unions and employer organisations regarding the building of 10,000 affordable houses; when the scheme will start; the time span within which the 10,000 houses will be built; the companies by which they will be built; if sites have been handed over for this purpose; the number of such houses started; the number expected to be started by the end of 2004; when he expects the first such houses to be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2868/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161, 194 and 199 together.

The affordable housing initiative was brought forward by the parties to the Sustaining Progress pay agreement, to meet the needs of persons priced out of the housing market. In response, the Government committed to an ambitious scale of delivery of affordable housing through this initiative and the provisions of Part V. Identifying potential sites for the initiative last July and December has been a critical step in ensuring early delivery of affordable housing for the initiative. Substantial progress has been made to date, including Part V, arrangements, all the sites so far identified have the potential to deliver 6,100 units. The fact that these sites are being released by both local authorities and a range of other State authorities indicates the broad commitment at Government level to facilitate the earliest delivery of housing at affordable prices.

Both local authority and State lands have been identified for the initiative in Dublin, Kildare and Meath. In July 2003, four sites were earmarked for the initiative: two OPW sites in Dublin in Jamestown Road and Infirmary Road, each with a potential housing yield of 300 and 100 units, respectively; and two Department of Defence sites — Magee Barracks in Kildare and Gormanston in Meath, each with a potential yield of an estimated 350 units.

In December 2003 both State and local authority lands in Dublin, Cork and Waterford were earmarked for the initiative. The relevant local authority lands in Dublin have a total potential yield of around 2,300 units. South Dublin County Council envisages a potential yield of 1,000 units on its own lands for the initiative, the main areas being Tallaght, 750 units in Kiltepper, Killinarden, Fortunestown and Lucan-Clondalkin, and 250 units in Balgaddy and Nangor. The 900 units identified by Dublin City Council for this initiative are in Cedarbrook phase II development, Cherry Orchard area, 500 units; Finglas Road-Tolka Valley area, 170 units, and 130 units on the Malahide Road. The three areas earmarked in Fingal County Council for 400 units are Blanchardstown, Balbriggan and Donabate. State owned lands at Harcourt Terrace, Portrane and St. Bricin's Hospital in Dublin are also being released for the initiative with potential housing yields of 30, 150 and 80 units, respectively.

The timescale for delivery and precise number of units to be delivered on each site will be determined in planning the projects and take account of factors such as site characteristics, servicing status, sustainable development, the appropriate housing mix and other facilities. Arrangements are now being put in place for the establishment and transfer of title of the relevant sites and implementation meetings have been held with all relevant local authorities and Departments to progress delivery on these sites.

There is a range of matters to be dealt with from identification of sites through to delivery. These are being expedited and I am confident that, with the shared resolve of the Government and the parties to the pay agreement, the challenge set in Sustaining Progress will be met and measurable progress will be achieved by the mid-term review this year.

As provided for in the agreement, the Government has been working with the parties to the pay agreement to develop all aspects of this initiative. This includes issues such as defining the eligibility criteria to apply to the target group, the appropriate models for delivery, financing arrangements and land acquisition. These meetings have been positive in advancing the difficult issues which must be addressed in the implementation phase.

In terms of the delivery model, under the terms of the agreement, this scheme cannot impact on the Exchequer or general Government finances. Therefore, the kind of subsidy which arises under existing affordable housing schemes will not be appropriate. The delivery model will therefore build on existing expertise in the affordable housing area and will be delivered through contracts with developers procured competitively by local authorities. These contracts will be to design, build and finance the construction of the units.

I welcome this ambitious initiative as another means of bringing more affordable housing on stream. Work on implementing this initiative is progressing as a priority and consultations are continuing with Departments, State agencies and local authorities to identify other lands suitable for the initiative and other housing purposes. This is firm evidence of the Government's determination to making measurable progress in the implementation of this initiative by the mid-term review of Sustaining Progress in the middle of this year. We will work to ensure that the output from all affordable housing schemes is maximised while ensuring the continuation of measures to maintain the overall supply of new houses.