Question No. 1411 answered with Question No. 1357.

Interdepartmental Working Groups

Questions (1412)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1412. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the working groups currently established in his Department; the focus of their work; the membership composition of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13569/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the working groups currently established in my Department, including the focus of their work are set out in the attached table. In answering this question, I am interpreting "working groups" broadly to include such groups as advisory groups, steering committees and expert groups.

Title of Working Group

Focus of Work of Working Group

Membership Composition

Steering Group of the Value for Money review of homelessness services

A Value for Money review of homelessness services, i.e. an evaluation of the various homelessness accommodation and supports funded by the Department

An independent chair and representatives of my Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and the local government sector.

Steering Committee of the joint DHPLG/ESRI research programme on housing economics.

To provide high-level oversight and to help determine the work-plan for the programme.

An independent chair and representatives of my Department and relevant public bodies.

Inter-Departmental Group on Marine Spatial Planning

The Group advises the Department on the establishment of goals and objectives for Ireland’s National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) and assists in the drafting of the NMPF.

Representatives from various Government Departments and relevant public bodies.

Advisory Group on Marine Spatial Planning

The purpose of the Advisory Group is to harness the potential and capacity of a broad range of stakeholders in the preparation of Ireland’s National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF).

Representatives of my Department, relevant public bodies, universities, NGOs and industry & tourism representative groups.

Rural Housing Guidelines Review Working Group

To review and where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing to ensure that rural housing policies and objectives contained in local authority development plans comply with EU Law.

Representatives of my Department and the Planning Divisions of local authorities.

Working Group on Disability Voting

Improving accessibility to polling stations, promoting measures to advance voting accessibility. Developing and improving ballot paper templates.

Representatives of my Department and relevant bodies.

Receivership Working Group

To examine the scope for amending legislation to provide for greater protection of tenants’ rights during the receivership process.

Representatives of my Department and other Government Departments.

Working Group on Rental Standards

To develop a national system of shared support services covering ICT, legal services, training and capacity development and resource and performance management.

Representatives of my Department, relevant public bodies and local authorities.

Housing Data Analytics Group

Reviewing the various sources of housing and housing related data collected nationally.

To make recommendations to improve housing and housing related data.

Representatives of my Department, other Government Departments, relevant public bodies and local authorities.

Marine Licence Vetting Committee

The MLVC is a multi-disciplinary standing committee that provides scientific, technical and engineering advice on applications for foreshore consent.

Representatives of my Department, other relevant Government Departments and relevant public bodies.

Review of Valuation Tribunal

To identify how improvements in accountability, efficiency and effectiveness can be secured and to assess the governance structure of the Valuation Tribunal and the Department’s oversight of the Valuation Tribunal.

Representatives of my Department, Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, local authorities and the Valuation Tribunal.

Review of Schedules 3 and 4 of the Valuation Act (Valuation Act 2001)

A review of the categories of relevant property contained in the Valuation Act 2001.

Representatives of my Department, Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, local authorities and the Valuation Tribunal.

Working Group to conduct a review of the wider investment needs relating to rural water services

The review is focused on the actions required to improve and sustain rural water services. The scope of the review includes all water services outside of the public (Irish Water) network.

Representatives of my Department and representatives of relevant public bodies.

Climate Adaptation Team

Coordinating and overseeing the process of preparing a climate Sectoral Adaptation Plan in respect of water quality and water services infrastructure.

Representatives of my Department, other Government Departments, local authorities and relevant public bodies.

Shannon Fish Passage Steering Group

To consider the impact of barriers to fish migration at Parteen, and to make recommendations for improving fish passage in its environs.

Representatives of my Department and of relevant public bodies.

Outputs Monitoring Group

Review key metrics in relation to investment by Irish Water, both financial and output indicators.

Representatives of my Department and relevant public bodies

Nitrates Expert Group

To advise on the Nitrates Action Programmes and to consider nitrate-related issues in relation to water quality.

Representatives of my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and relevant public bodies.

Lead Mitigation Advisory Group

To consider and make recommendations on the broader Irish Water Lead Mitigation Strategy and to consider appropriate guidelines and criteria for Irish Water’s decision-making process for lead mitigation measures.

Representatives of my Department, local authorities and relevant public bodies.

Bathing Waters Expert Group

To consider mechanisms to safeguard the health of bathing water users.

To develop measures to increase public awareness of and participation in the implementation of the Bathing Water Directive in Ireland (BWD).

To undertake an annual review of bathing water quality data from previous bathing season.

Representatives of my Department, local authorities, relevant public bodies and NGOs.

Rates Steering Group

The Rates Steering Group was established to enable sectoral policy input to, and consultation on proposals to amend rates legislation.

Representatives of my Department and local authorities.

General Accounts Working Group

To address matters of an accounting and financial reporting nature in the local government sector.

Representatives of my Department, Heads of Finance in Local Government and Local Government Audit Service.

INSPIRE Steering Committee

Coordinate the monitoring and reporting required by the INSPIRE Directive on Geo-Spatial information.

Representatives of my Department and relevant public bodies.

Tailte Éireann Merger Project Board

To lead on the merger of 3 state bodies; Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Property Registration Authority and the Office of the Commissioner for Valuation.

Representatives of my Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the relevant parties.

National Flood Forecast Warning Service – Communications Working Group

To develop a Communications Strategy for Stage 1 of the NFFWS

Representatives from Met Éireann, OPW and Local Authorities.

National Flood Forecast Warning Service – Technical Sub -Group

To discuss technical issues with respect to the NFFWS and provide recommendations to the NFFWS SG

Representatives from Met Éireann and OPW.

National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability (NHSPWD) Implementation Monitoring Group (IMG)

To oversee an implementation and monitoring framework to support the effective implementation of the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability, 2011 – 2016.

Representatives of my Department, the Department of Health, relevant public bodies and charities.

Disability Consultative Committee (DCC)

To facilitate engagement between the Department and representatives from the disability sector in the implementation of actions and to monitor the Department’s input into the National Disability Inclusion Strategy.

Representatives of my Department, the Department of Health, relevant public bodies, charities and NGOs.

Homelessness Inter-Agency Group

To assist in the coordination of the State’s response to addressing homelessness.

Representatives of my Department, other Government Departments, local authorities, and Tusla.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

Question No. 1414 answered with Question No. 1357.

Questions (1413)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

1413. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a revised total amount of €1.9 million in funding can be allocated for housing adaptation grants by Sligo County Council for 2019, in view of the fact that the council has the required levels to match funding to allow this level of grant to be awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13614/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I recently announced funding for 2019 of €71.25 million nationally for the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, living in private houses. Sligo County Council has received a 2019 allocation of €1,405,298, comprising exchequer funding of €1,124,238 and €281,060 from the local authority. Based on population, which is increasingly the basis on which allocations are made, this is a fair allocation to Sligo relative to the thirty other local authorities.

Over the course of each year, my Department works closely with all local authorities, to monitor spend and to achieve a full drawdown of the available funding. As the year progresses, any underspend is redistributed to those local authorities with high levels of grant activity who sought additional funding. Sligo County Council can be considered for additional funding in the context of this, if it emerges that other local authorities will not spend in full.

Question No. 1414 answered with Question No. 1357.

River Basin Management Plans

Questions (1415)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

1415. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 358 of 13 March 2019, if he will address the specific question asked as to the specific plan to save the weir; and the specific timeframe for works to begin. [13662/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Cork County Council owns Fermoy Weir and has responsibility for carrying out and funding any necessary works to the weir. My Department does not have responsibility, or a funding stream, for repairing river weirs.

As set out in my previous reply to the Deputy my Department does have responsibility for preparing Ireland's River Basin Management Plans under the Water Framework Directive. These plans set out programmes of measures to be implemented by a wide range of public and private stakeholders to safeguard our aquatic environment. In this regard, my Department is providing some funding to Inland Fisheries Ireland to carry out an inventory of barriers to fish movements at a national level. This research will inform a prioritised programme to address barriers to fish movement in the next river basin management planning cycle which runs from 2022-2027. The funding of such a programme will need to be considered by all relevant parties in the context of that next plan.

In relation to the Fermoy weir, my Department understands that technical discussions have taken place between Cork County Council, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, and Inland Fisheries Ireland regarding the design of Cork County Council's proposed works and how any proposed works can be consistent with fisheries and environmental obligations. Question No 505 of 30 January 2018 and a Topical Interest Debate regarding inland fishery maintenance of 4 July 2018 both refer.

Pyrite Remediation Programme

Questions (1416)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

1416. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the pyrite remediation scheme will be expanded to include houses damaged by pyrite in the blockwork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13669/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board, and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of “last resort” for affected homeowners who have no other practical option to obtain redress, and is limited in its application and scope. The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out on the Pyrite Remediation Board’s website at www.pyriteboard.ie/.

The provisions of the Act apply only to dwellings affected by significant damage attributable to pyritic heave consequent on the presence of reactive pyrite in the subfloor hardcore material, and not to damage arising in any other circumstance, e.g. such as pyrite in concrete blocks. It is not intended at this time to include houses damaged by pyrite in the blockwork in the pyrite remediation scheme.

It should be noted that an Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks was established by my Department in 2016, to investigate problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in counties Donegal and Mayo. Under Budget 2019, the Government approved in principle the development of a grant scheme of financial assistance to support affected homeowners in the two counties to carry out the necessary remediation works to dwellings that have been damaged due to defective concrete blocks. My Department is liaising with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to the development of such a scheme.

Commencement of Legislation

Questions (1417)

Catherine Martin

Question:

1417. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the planned establishment of the office of the planning regulator, which was scheduled for January 2019; and if the office will be dealing with complaints from the public. [13718/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 ("The Act") provides the statutory footing for the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR). As set out in the Act, in certain circumstances the Office will have the power to review the systems and procedures of a planning authority to ensure that they are fit for purpose. This can be done, inter alia, on foot of complaints from members of the public.

I expect to commence the relevant sections of the Act to legally establish the Office and to formally appoint the Regulator in the coming weeks. There is currently an advance Office in place making the necessary preparations for the OPR to be able to perform its statutory functions following its formal establishment.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (1418)

Catherine Martin

Question:

1418. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he is taking to reduce the amount of underoccupancy in local authority stock, such as offering incentives, a furniture or redecoration grant to tenants to right-size; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13725/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The allocation of local authority dwellings and thereafter the management of tenancies is a matter for individual local authorities. I understand that the majority of local authorities have arrangements in place to enable tenants to move to smaller dwellings where they have expressed a wish to do so, where the local authority has housing stock that meets the needs of the tenant.

My Department and the Department of Health have been working together since 2017 to develop policy options for supported housing/housing with care so that older people will have options to choose accommodation that is suited to their needs. The Actions are set out in a joint Policy Statement, Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, including a commitment to put in place methods and mechanisms to incentivise older people in public and private housing to rightsize to smaller dwellings, if they choose to do so. The Policy Statement, which was published on 27 February 2019, is available on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/housing_options_for_an_ageingpopulation_0.pdf.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (1419)

Niall Collins

Question:

1419. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a reply will issue to correspondence from a person (details supplied) regarding the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13737/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment)(No. 2) Bill 2018 was published on 19 December 2018. This Bill is prioritised for quick passage through the Oireachtas during the current Oireachtas session and is scheduled for Dáil Committee Stage on 3 April 2019.

A response has issued to the correspondence referred to in the question.

Housing Adaptation Grant Data

Questions (1420)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

1420. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount each local authority returned unspent in housing adaptation grants for persons with a disability, the mobility aids grant and the housing aid for older people for each of the past three years; and the allocation by each local authority in 2019.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13756/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Information on the allocations to each local authority under the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 is publicly available on my Department’s website, at the following links -

For 2016: www.environ.ie/housing/grantsfinancial-assistance/ministers-kelly-coffey-announce-eu5625-million-improve-homes.

For 2017: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/rebuilding-ireland/older-people/minister-coveney-announces-eu598million-improve-homes-older.

For 2018: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/special-housing-needs/minister-english-announces-eu6625-million-funding-improve-homes-older.

For 2019: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/special-housing-needs/older-people/minister-english-announces-eu7125-million-funding-improve.

Information on the grants paid each year by the local authorities is also set out on my Department’s website, at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/social-and-affordble/other-local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics.

Funding is provided annually to each local authority, for the different grant schemes under the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability. The detailed administration of this funding, including the apportionment across the individual grant schemes, is a matter for the local authorities.

Departmental Data

Questions (1421)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1421. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of complaints submitted to his Department in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of appeals made with respect to the outcome of such complaints; the number referred to the Office of the Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13784/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is committed to providing a high quality service to all our customers. On occasion, it receives complaints from members of the public in relation to their interaction with the Department. My Department considers every complaint received and aims to resolve it within 15 working days, in accordance with our Quality Customer Service Charter. These complaints are reviewed in order to identify any potential service improvements.

The details requested by the Deputy in respect of 2017 and 2018 have previously been provided in reply to Question No 1206 of 15 January 2019. In 2019, apart from Met Éireann, my Department has received one complaint, a further one has progressed to the Office of the Ombudsman and none have been appealed.

The table below gives the number of complaints recorded by Met Éireann (a Division of my Department) on its customer service system and refer to a range of issues relating to its high profile service to the public. 56 of these complaints were in respect of the weather forecast with the balance following the introduction of Met Éireann’s new website and app, which would be expected in the early period following new services of this kind.

Year

No of complaints

2019

103

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

Questions (1422, 1426)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

1422. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the review of income limits for social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13792/19]

View answer

Joe Carey

Question:

1426. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the review of income eligibility limits for social housing will be published; when sanction will be given to increased income limits with particular reference to County Clare in view of the fact that the limits are perceived to be very low; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14049/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1422 and 1426 together.

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway. The Housing Agency is continuing to carry out the detailed statistical work, which will underpin this review, on behalf of my Department.

The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Rental Accommodation Scheme Data

Questions (1423)

Noel Grealish

Question:

1423. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if landlords providing properties under the RAS scheme to local authorities were given rent increases in excess of the 4% allowed in rent pressure zones since the 4% cap was introduced; the number of landlords that were offered more than the 4% increase in rent but this offer was subsequently withdrawn by the local authority, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13827/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Government’s Strategy for the Rental Sector recognises that rapidly increasing rental inflation is the most significant challenge to security of tenure in the rental sector and that there is a need for a targeted, time-bound and transparent policy response to the issue of rising rents. To address this, the Government introduced the Rent Predictability Measure. This measure, which was provided for through the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, introduced the concept of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) to moderate the rate of rent increases in those areas of the country where rents are highest and rising quickly.

Where the local authority in a designated RPZ wishes to offer a new RAS contract, RPZ limits must be observed in any contract negotiations. This means that rent increases are capped at a maximum of 4% per annum for up to three years. Rent reviews in respect of dwellings made available for social housing under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and located in RPZs must be undertaken in compliance with the governing RPZ legislation. It is a matter for each local authority, as the lessee in RAS contracts, to ensure compliance with the RPZ legislation in respect of RAS dwellings.

Housing Estates

Questions (1424)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1424. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the review of the taking in charge of estates with developer provided infrastructure; if the report has been received; when a decision will be made to instruct local authorities that they can be processed and take in charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13958/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Residential developments consisting of two or more dwellings that have been granted planning permission under section 34 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) may be eligible (depending on the grant of planning condition) for taking in charge. The taking in charge of residential estates by local authorities is provided for under section 180 of the 2000 Act and is a reserved function of the elected members.

Under Section 180 (1) of the Act, the planning authority is obliged to initiate taking in charge procedures where requested by either the developer or by the majority of owners of the dwellings. However, this is subject to the development being completed to the satisfaction of the authority and in accordance with the permission and any conditions.

My Department launched the National Taking-in-Charge Initiative (NTICI) in April 2016 to trial new approaches and working methods in supporting and accelerating overall national and local action on the taking-in-charge process of housing estates, including estates with developer-provided water services infrastructure (DPI). Under the terms of the NTICI, which was underpinned by €10 million in funding, developments subject to valid taking-in-charge applications were eligible for inclusion in the associated call for funding proposals. Ultimately, €7.5 million of the allocated funding was paid to local authorities in respect of 330 developments, containing some 13,400 homes.

Findings and recommendations from the NTICI process were included in a report on the initiative that was published by my Department in December 2018. The report is available at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/national_taking_in_charge_initiative_report_dec2018.pdf.

The publication of the NTICI report is of value to local authorities and other stakeholders in applying the lessons from the pilot authorities, in a more general roll-out of a streamlined approach to taking-in-charge, including through coordination with capital works by Irish Water.

Ultimately, however, progression of individual developments through the taking-in-charge process is a matter for the relevant housing developer, the residents in such developments and the relevant local authorities, following the procedures laid out in section 180.

The National Development Plan, published last year, includes provision of €31 million for the period 2018-2021 for developer-provided infrastructure, commencing with an estimates provision of €6 million in 2019. The multi-annual programme will be initiated through the invitation of project bids from local authorities followed by their evaluation by an Expert Panel, set up by my Department, to independently evaluate the bid projects and make recommendations to my Department on suitable projects to be approved for funding. It is expected that approval of projects for this first cycle multi-annual programme will take place in Q2 2019.

Capital Assistance Scheme

Question No. 1426 answered with Question No. 1422.

Questions (1425)

Catherine Martin

Question:

1425. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the timeline of the renovation of a property (details supplied); if measures are being taken to resolve the funding issues in relation to the renovation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14028/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

An application under my Department's Capital Assistance Scheme was received for the acquisition and adaptation of the property in question, in June 2017. Funding approval was issued in July 2017, for an overall budget to cover the acquisition and adaptation. This budget approval was less than the combined amount sought, but given the exceptionally high costs of the proposed project, the local authority and AHB involved were advised to strive for a better value-for-money proposal for the combined acquisition and adaptation costs.

The AHB involved proceeded to acquire the property and subsequently in 2018, presented an increased budget for the project, greater than that originally sought and considerably in excess of that issued by my Department in July 2017.

My Department has sought further clarifications from the local authority and the AHB on their proposals to complete this project as soon as possible, given the budget approval that issued to them in July 2017, and their replies are awaited.

Question No. 1426 answered with Question No. 1422.

Garda Vetting

Questions (1427)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

1427. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there a requirement by the local authorities to Garda vet persons who are in receipt of housing assistance payment, HAP; if persons that are residing in HAP houses have to comply with the same level of scrutiny as council tenants; and if they can have their tenancy terminated. [14060/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In order for a household to qualify for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, the household must first be assessed as eligible for social housing support by their local authority. Any household assessed as eligible for social housing is immediately eligible for HAP.

The application form for social housing support prescribed by the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, requires applicants to provide details of any convictions under a number of specified statutes relating to anti-social behaviour and public order offences.

In respect of the HAP scheme, under section 45(6) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, local authorities may refuse to provide, or cease providing, housing assistance in respect of a qualified household where the local authority considers that any household member is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Similarly, under this section, the local authority may also refuse to permit a person who proposes to take up or resume residence or enter or be in a dwelling the subject of housing assistance where the local authority considers that the person is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Under HAP, a tenant sources their own accommodation in the private rented market. The tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, (as amended). The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Act to operate a national tenancy registration system and to facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.

Housing Adaptation Grant Applications

Questions (1428)

David Cullinane

Question:

1428. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if local council officials can override or ignore recommendations in cases in which an application is lodged with a local council for a housing adaptation grant and recommendations are made by an occupational therapist when deciding on the type of grant ultimately awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14120/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The local authorities have responsibility for the detailed administration of the Housing Adaptation Grants scheme for Older People and People with a Disability, which includes the assessment, approval and payment of grants to applicants under the various measures. While an occupational therapist report informs a local authority's assessment of a grant application, the final decision on the works approved and the most appropriate type of grant for the applicant's needs, rests with the Council.

Private Rented Accommodation

Questions (1429)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1429. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a series of matters relating to proposed planning for a company (details supplied) will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14156/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under Action 18 of the Strategy for the Rental Sector, a Working Group was established, involving representatives of all major public stakeholders with a policy interest in short-term lettings, to develop guidance in relation to planning applications, changes of use relating to short-term lettings and to examine the need for new regulatory arrangements. Proposals under consideration by the Working Group have been aimed at facilitating short-term letting of accommodation within permanent residences, known as homesharing, while protecting the existing stock of residential property in areas of high demand.

Having considered the Working Group's report as well as the recommendations in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on short-term lettings, I recently announced plans to introduce a “one host, one home” model in areas where there is high housing demand.

Homesharing will continue to be permissible for a person’s primary residence. In addition, an annual cap of 90 days will apply for the renting out on a short-term basis of a person's entire home where it is their primary residence, with such short-term lets being restricted to periods of 14 days or less at a time. Under these arrangements, people who wish to avail of the new planning exemptions to use their own home for home-sharing or limited short-term letting purposes will be required to register this with their local planning authority.

Where a person owns a second property and intends to let it for short-term letting purposes, they will require planning permission to do so unless it already has planning permission to be used for tourism or short-term letting purposes. Planning permission for a change of use to short-term letting can be sought and it will be up to each local planning authority to consider such applications, based on guidance that will issue from my Department, taking account of housing demand pressures in the area and other relevant factors such as cumulative impacts.

These proposed changes will not affect the operation of holiday homes as typically understood, or longer-term flexible lettings which are provided for those coming to Ireland under employment contracts.

It is intended that the proposed new planning changes will come into effect on 1 June 2019, to allow property owners sufficient lead-in time to prepare for and adapt to the proposed new laws. In addition to the making of revised draft exempted development planning regulations, which are being progressed, amendments to primary legislation will also be introduced which will underpin and strengthen the new proposals. This element of the changes proposed is currently being developed and details will be published in due course.

Issues in relation to taxation are a matter for colleague the Minister for Finance. Matters relating to quality of tourism related accommodation are overseen by Fáilte Ireland.

Departmental Funding

Questions (1430, 1431)

Micheál Martin

Question:

1430. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the convention centre in Cork city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14071/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

1431. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to a programme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14072/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1430 and 1431 together.

A grant of €12m is allocated to Cork City Council for the purpose of the construction of an Event Centre in Cork.

In light of additional works required for the Cork Event Centre and following detailed consideration, my Department considers that, in accordance with public procurement rules, the total public funding for the project may be increased by €10 million to €30 million, made up of grant aid of €21 million and a repayable loan of €9 million. In December, my Department wrote to Cork City Council on this matter of additional public funding for the Event Centre.

Officials in my Department met with Cork City Council in January to discuss all aspects around the public funding elements of the project and continue to liaise with the City Council in this regard. It should be noted that all State funding will be subject to adherence to the requirements of the Public Spending Code and Public Financial Procedures.

I am aware of the recent programme referred to by the Deputy which made it clear that this is a project led by Cork City Council with the development company BAM, having been selected by Cork City Council as the preferred tenderer. BAM in turn has engaged international events company Live Nation as the preferred operator. Cork City Council has responsibility for the delivery of the project.

The important thing is to ensure that the project is delivered in accordance with the relevant legal and value for money requirements. I understand that officials in my Department are in regular contact with the relevant stakeholders including Cork City Council with a view to progressing the project as a matter of urgency.