The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 made a number of amendments to Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, effective from 1 September 2015, following the outcome of an independent review of Part V, which included a consultation process.
The amendments sought to maximise the contribution Part V can make to social housing supply and sustainable mixed-tenure communities across the country. The amendments reduced the overall requirement for social and affordable housing in private developments from 20% to 10% of the total, but also removed the option of a cash payment by the developer in lieu of units, or the transfer of sites or parts of sites. The options remaining are focused on the delivery of completed units. The operation of Part V is kept under review by my Department.
I have currently no plans to re-introduce a Shared Ownership Scheme. However, a range of measures are being taken under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness to increase housing supply overall, with the aim of creating a functioning and sustainable housing system which can meet housing demand at more affordable prices.
The plan is divided into five pillars, with each targeting a specific area of the housing system. Pillar 3, entitled Build More Homes, has a key objective of increasing the output of private housing to meet demand at affordable prices, including by
- Opening up land supply and State lands, including the Major Urban Housing Development Sites initiative, which identified large-scale sites in the main cities that are capable of delivering significant homes in the short to medium term to boost overall housing supply;
- €200m Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund;
- National Treasury Management Agency financing of large-scale “on-site” infrastructure;
- Planning Reforms;
- Putting in place a National Planning Framework and land management actions;
- Efficient design and delivery methods to lower housing delivery costs;
- Measures to support construction innovation and skills.
Pillar 4 of the Plan, entitled Improve the Rental Sector, provided for the introduction of an affordable rental scheme to enhance the capacity of the private rented sector to provide quality and affordable accommodation for households currently paying a disproportionate amount of disposable income on rent. As set out in the recently published Strategy for the Rental Sector, this commitment is now being progressed through kick-starting supply in rent pressure zones.
Other measures taken to increase the supply of housing include -
- The enhanced supply of more affordable starter homes in key locations through a targeted rebate of development contributions in Dublin and Cork for housing supplied under certain price levels;
- New National Apartment Planning Guidelines, reducing the cost of apartment building;
- Changes to aspects of the operation of Strategic Development Zones to enable swifter adjustments to meet market requirements;
- A vacant sites levy.
In relation to assistance to purchase, the Help to Buy incentive is designed to assist first-time buyers with obtaining the deposit required to purchase or self-build a new home. The incentive provides for a refund of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid over the previous four tax years to first-time buyers. Further information on this Scheme can be found on the Revenue Commissioners' website at the following link: http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/it/reliefs/htb/index.html.
It might also be noted that a first time buyer who is unable to get a loan from a building society or bank may be eligible for a mortgage from their local authority, in cases where the gross income (before tax) is €50,000 or less for a single income household or €75,000 or less in the case of a double income household. The loan can be up to 97% of the price of the house subject to a maximum loan of €200,000. Also first time buyers can apply for a Home Choice Loan to purchase a new or second hand property or build their own home. Home Choice Loan provides up to 92% of the market value of a property purchased, subject to a maximum loan amount of €285,000. Further information is available at www.homechoiceloan.ie.