Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2923)

Mattie McGrath


2923. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the municipal-owned site at Stereame, Nenagh, County Tipperary, which has services in place will be considered as a template site for Tipperary County Council to provide local authority affordable housing (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33419/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In 2011, following a Government decision, all previous affordable housing schemes were stood down. In June 2018, I commenced Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which now places a new affordable housing scheme on a statutory basis.

The new affordable housing for purchase scheme replaces the time-limited claw-back which applied under the various previous affordable housing schemes. Under this scheme, a discount of up to 40% may be provided by the local authority to the prospective purchaser of an affordable home. The local authority will retain a charge equivalent to the discount, and the household must repay the charge at re-sale or during the charged period. The scheme applies to new homes on local authority land, and is targeted at low to middle-income households. The equity charge will be repaid by the purchaser into a new Affordable Dwellings Fund, which will be administered by the Housing Finance Agency and used to fund more affordable housing.

The selection of particular local authority lands for development of homes that will be made available under the Affordable Purchase Scheme is, in the first instance, a matter for the relevant local authority. One of the mechanisms I have made available to local authorities to help them deliver affordable housing options is the Serviced Site Fund (SSF). Under the SSF, €310 million is being made available over a three year period, from 2019 to 2021, to support the delivery of infrastructure on local authority sites, which will in turn support the delivery of over 6,000 affordable homes nationally.

The first call for proposals under the SSF in June 2018 was targeted at 11 local authorities, where it was identified that the greatest affordability pressures exist. I issued approval in principle in December 2018 for funding for 10 infrastructure projects in Dublin and Cork with €43 million funding, which will support the delivery of 1,400 affordable homes.

Following the first call under the SSF, and in order to target affordable interventions, all local authorities were asked to complete financial/economic assessments of each of their sites to assess whether the provision of affordable homes is economically viable. Local authorities were also asked to assess the broader housing affordability within their area.

A second call for proposals under the SSF issued to 19 local authorities, including Tipperary County Council, on 9 April 2019, based on the aforementioned economic assessments. The closing date for returns was 17 May 2019 and 31 submissions were received back from 15 local authorities, including Tipperary County Council. These are currently being assessed by my Department and I intend to issue approvals in principle to successful applications under the second call in the coming weeks. While the site referred to was not submitted by Tipperary County Council under the SSF second call, it will be open to the Council to submit the site for consideration under a future call for proposals, if it considers it appropriate to do so.