Thursday, 4 November 2004

Questions (77)

Michael Ring


63 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the report of the Dublin Regional Authority and Dublin Employment Pact that calls for the creation of a greater Dublin authority; if he has plans to implement any of the report’s recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27561/04]

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

I assume the question refers to the Agenda for Dublin, published on 19 October 2004 by the Dublin Regional Authority and the Dublin Employment Pact. The recommendations in this report involve a range of Ministers and will be a matter for each of them to consider, as appropriate. The establishment of a greater Dublin authority for land use and transport planning would be a matter in the first instance for my colleague, the Minister for Transport.

In so far as the policy areas within my remit are concerned, the national spatial strategy supports Dublin's pivotal role as a strong and internationally competitive city region, driving both its own economy and overall national development. The strategy endorses the need for the enhancement of Dublin's national role through improved mobility, better urban design, good social mix and top class international and regional connections. To achieve this, it calls for the physical consolidation of Dublin, supported by effective land use policies, to underpin the area's competitiveness and the ability of its public transport system to function more effectively.

The Dublin and Mid-East Regional Authorities have collaborated, under the provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000, to produce strategic planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area, which were adopted in May 2004. These guidelines, which provide a more detailed long-term planning framework for the area within the overall vision of the national spatial strategy, also provide an illustration of how existing legislation can be utilised to ensure effective strategic planning at the regional level.

The Government has responded actively to the increased level of social housing need by expanding social and affordable housing output significantly. Spending on housing has increased substantially in recent years, with capital spending in 2004 at four times the 1998 level. The focus of the Government's spending on housing is on responding to the needs of low income, groups and those with social and special housing needs through a broad range of targeted initiatives. It is anticipated that through these measures the needs of over 13,000 households will be met in 2004, compared to some 8,500 households in 1998.

In addition, local authorities have been requested to prepare five-year social and affordable housing action plans to provide a framework for delivery of social and affordable housing measures for the period 2004 to 2008. The main objective in developing these action plans is the need to ensure that the investment available for these measures achieves the desired effect in the long term by tackling real need and breaking cycles of disadvantage and dependency.

As part of the homeless strategy, a homeless agency was established for the Dublin area to manage and co-ordinate the delivery of all services by both statutory and voluntary agencies to homeless persons in Dublin. The agency recently finalised its action plan for 2004 to 2006, which concentrates on four main areas. These are the provision of more housing rather than beds, the development of preventative strategies, the improvement of interventions when people become homeless, and an improvement in the collection and collation of data on homelessness.

Having regard to spatial planning and the other policies within my remit, regional co-ordination and co-operation is increasingly the norm. In this context, the Dublin Regional Authority, working closely with the Mid-East Regional Authority and the four Dublin local authorities, will continue to co-ordinate the provision of public services in the region.