Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2973)

John Brady

Question:

2973. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the affordable housing scheme; the targets for affordable rentals and homes within County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34493/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In June 2018, I commenced Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which now places affordable housing on a statutory basis.

One of the mechanisms 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 help provide for the delivery of over 6,000 affordable homes to buy or rent.

The first call for proposals under the SSF in June 2018 aimed to provide funding opportunities to 11 local authorities, including Wicklow County Council, 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, 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. The economic assessment from Wicklow County Council submitted to my Department identified 8 sites (outlined in the table below) as potentially suitable for affordable housing.

Location

Ballynerrin, Wicklow Town

O’Sullivan Lands, Rathnew

Ashtown Lane, Wicklow

Barndarrig

Rehills Land, Bray

Berryfield, Delgany

Millltown Road, Dunlavin

Tinahask Upper, Arklow

Glenealy, Wicklow

A second call for proposals under the SSF issued in April 2019 to 19 local authorities, including Wicklow County Council, based on the aforementioned economic assessments. The closing date for returns was 17 May 2019 and 31 submissions were received from 15 local authorities, including one in Rathnew in respect of County Wicklow. These proposals are currently being assessed by my Department and I intend to issue approvals in principle to successful applications under this second call in the coming weeks.

Cost rental is a major national strategic housing objective. Cost Rental is housing where the rents charged are limited to covering the cost of delivering, managing and maintaining the homes. It aims to offer moderate-income households the choice of a more affordable and stable form of rental tenure. A Cost Rental Working Group has been convened to develop an overall national policy and approach to delivery. The European Investment Bank has been engaged on a research project to support the Department in its work and help identify the optimum operational and financial model for Cost Rental in Ireland. In addition, the Department is co-ordinating with a number of bodies to progress Cost Rental delivery, including the Land Development Agency (LDA), which is examining the potential to deliver Cost Rental homes at scale from its land portfolio and the broader State land bank. Two Cost Rental pilot projects are currently in development at Enniskerry Road in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown and St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, with construction having commenced at the Enniskerry Road site at the end of June. The learning from these projects will inform the rollout of the concept more widely, as appropriate.

These schemes will complement other key Government affordability initiatives, such as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have supported some 13,000 households.