In line with the commitments in Rebuilding Ireland to support the delivery of discounted homes to buy or rent, this Government has allocated €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), from 2019 to 2021, to provide infrastructure to support the delivery of some 6,200 more affordable homes on local authority lands. This funding is being made available in areas where local authorities have demonstrated a requirement for affordable housing and the viability to deliver such housing from their sites.
Land utilisation and activation is, in the first instance, a matter for the local authority and its elected members including the development of its land for the delivery of more affordable private housing. In order to target SSF funding interventions, in October 2018, local authorities were invited to undertake an economic assessment of their sites to assess whether the provision of affordable homes was necessary and economically viable. As part of that assessment local authorities were also asked to consider the broader housing affordability within their area. 19 local authorities returned economic assessments to my Department, including Galway County Council.
To date, I have allocated SSF funding of €127 million, in support of 35 projects in 14 local authority areas, for infrastructure works that will see the delivery of almost 3,200 affordable homes. This funding was awarded to local authorities on a competitive basis.
These projects include a bid submitted for SSF funding by Galway City Council for the development of a site at Merlin Park. The Merlin Park project received funding Approval in Principle for €5.04m in August 2019. This is to help fund the delivery of enabling infrastructure such as the provision of access roads, development works, and utilities to service the site, which in turn will facilitate the delivery of 95 more affordable homes.
Galway County Council also submitted an SSF application for a site at Raheen, Athenry and it received Approval in Principle for funding of €1.5m in August 2019. This project is expected to deliver 35 more affordable homes. This funding will support infrastructure such as the provision of roads networks and footpaths, public lighting for the estate, surface water systems, public green areas, flood mitigation measures and attenuation on the site. The funding under SSF will secure the building of affordable homes on these two sites that otherwise would not be built at this time.
Full details of all other SSF projects that have received approval to principle in date are available at the following links:-
The overall cost and the timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of design, planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible. I anticipate that a further call for proposals under the SSF will issue to local authorities in 2020.
Homes delivered under the SSF are subject to the provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 that was commenced in June 2018. This legislation now provides the statutory basis for the delivery of affordable housing for purchase in the State. Regulations in respect of the making of Schemes of Priority were signed on 12th March 2019, and these were issued to local authorities on 22th March 2019. The purpose of a Scheme of Priority is to set out the affordable purchase arrangements at local authority level. This includes the methodology that will be applied by local authorities to determine the order of priority to be accorded to eligible households where the demand for such affordable dwellings exceeds the number available. Both Galway City Council and Galway County Council have submitted their Scheme of Priorities to my Department which I approved on 26 June 2019 and 9 July 2019 respectively.
In line with the legal requirements of the Affordable Dwelling Purchase Arrangements, further regulations will be put in place over the coming months regarding eligibility and other matters. When the operational procedures for the scheme are finalised, and before dwellings are made available for purchase under the scheme, a programme of communication will be undertaken by my Department and local authorities.
These schemes will complement some of the other key Government affordability initiatives, such as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have supported over 16,500 households nationally.