Once local authorities have identified a need to acquire additional lands, they may seek to borrow the required finance from the Housing Finance Agency. In accordance with Section 106 of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended, the decision to borrow is a reserved function of the elected members of the local authority concerned, who have direct responsibility in law for all reserved functions and are accountable for all expenditure by the local authority. As such, it is a matter for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process, having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources.
Section 106 of the said Act also provides that local authorities must obtain the consent of the appropriate Minister to undertake borrowing. In this regard, a request to borrow for housing land acquisition can be submitted by the local authority to my Department. Sanction may be granted based on an assessment of the financial viability of potential loans insofar as individual local authorities are concerned, and an assessment as to whether the borrowing can be accommodated within the context of the fiscal rules.
It should be noted that there is currently an appeal to An Bord Pleanála in relation to the Clonburris Strategic Development Zone. Following an oral hearing, a decision is not expected until the middle of 2019. Accordingly, I am not in a position to comment further on the matter at this time.