Commercial Rates Valuation Process

Questions (637)

James Browne

Question:

637. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the increase of valuation rates for renewable energy providers namely wind farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50288/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Valuation Acts 2001-2015 provide for the valuation of all commercial and industrial property for rating purposes. The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions under the Acts and the making of valuations for rating is his sole responsibility. As Minister, I have no function in decisions in this regard.

There is a distinct separation of function between the valuation of rateable property and the setting and collection of commercial rates. The amount of rates payable by a ratepayer in any calendar year is a product of the valuation set by the Valuation Office multiplied by the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) decided annually by the elected members of the local authority.

A valuation for commercial rates purposes is arrived at by estimating the Net Annual Value (NAV) of the property in question, at a specified valuation date. The term “net annual value” has a legal definition and is set out in section 48 of the Valuation Act 2001. This NAV is applied to all rateable properties, including wind farms, on a nationwide basis. All valuations determined for rating purposes under Part 5 of the Valuation Acts 2001 to 2015 must also endeavour to be correct, equitable and uniform. These are fundamental principles of the system of rateable valuation.

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund

Questions (638)

James Browne

Question:

638. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the urban regeneration and development fund; when he plans to announce a second round of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50304/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) is a flagship element of Project Ireland 2040. The URDF was established to support more compact and sustainable development, through the regeneration and rejuvenation of Ireland’s five cities and other large towns, in line with the objectives of the National Planning Framework and NDP. This is to enable a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns and to ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest and to visit.

Through the Fund, successful applicants are being offered targeted integrated support for applicant-led projects that will contribute to the regeneration and rejuvenation of our cities and towns.

The 88 projects approved under the first call offer a good regional spread, and span a number of themes. While the advancement of each project is, in the first instance, a matter for the successful applicant my Department is working closely and actively with them to ensure that the projects receiving URDF support come to fruition as soon as possible.

€58 million is available this year to support these projects while there is an Exchequer commitment of €550 million for the Fund to support these and other similar projects up to the end of 2022. Under the National Development Plan (NDP) a total of €2 billion will be made available to the URDF up to 2027.

A second call for proposals under the URDF will be announced shortly.

Legislative Measures

Questions (639)

Barry Cowen

Question:

639. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Bills sponsored by his Department that have been enacted since November 2013, in tabular form. [50322/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the Bills sponsored by my Department that have been enacted in the period November 2013 to July 2019 were made available in response to Question No. 279 on 10 October, 2019.

There has been one further Bill enacted in the period July 2019 to date:

- Citizens’ Assemblies Act 2019 (No. 25 of 2019) – enacted on 23 July 2019.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (640)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

640. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if affordable housing projects have been sanctioned for Galway City and County Councils to date; if so, the details of same; the number of applications for affordable housing received to date that are under consideration; the location of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50402/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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:-

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-10-local-authority-sites-affordable-housing-serviced-sites-fund/

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-funding-of-e84m-to-support-delivery-of-1770-affordable-homes-under-the-ssf/

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.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Review

Questions (641)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

641. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the review of the tenant purchase (incremental) scheme 2016 was completed; when he plans to publish the review; when he plans to make changes to the scheme; the reason for the delay in doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50403/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been recently finalised and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations.

I intend to bring a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures to Government in the near future and the review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme will be published as part of that process.

Special Areas of Conservation

Questions (642)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

642. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of consultations between the National Parks and Wildlife Service and a private members club (details supplied) regarding the protection of legally protected plants and habitat at a special area of conservation; if the National Parks and Wildlife Service has raised concerns in this regard; if she has been provided with a report on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49792/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I have a role as a statutory consultee in a variety of legislative contexts which typically govern the making of plans and programmes, the regulation of projects and the associated environmental assessments of these (where required) across the range of development and land use sectors. In any such capacity, I may make submissions or observations to assist the responsible authority in carrying out its functions, including consent functions, in compliance with various legislative and administrative requirements with respect to the conservation, protection and preservation of the natural heritage.

In addition, all public authorities having, or exercising functions, including consent functions, which may have implications for, or effects on, nature conservation must ensure compliance with the requirements of the EU Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive and the European Communities (Birds and Natural) Habitats Regulations 2011. In that regard, public authorities are obliged to ensure that they do not undertake or adopt or give consent to any party for any plan or project that may adversely affect the ecological integrity of a European site.

In August 2019, attention was drawn by a member of the public to the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department to proposals by the private members club, referred to in the Deputy’s Question, as regards land adjacent to land designated as a special area of conservation and special protected area. My Department reissued notification as to the designation of the area.

The Department made enquires with the relevant local authority regarding the proposal and was informed that the matter was under consideration by the authority.

My Department was subsequently provided by agents, acting on behalf of the private members club, with an ecological statement covering proposed redevelopment works at the private members club. Detailed plans for the proposal were also forwarded, which make reference to protected plants in the area and requirements for licensing.

The Flora (Protection) Order 2015, made under section 21 of the Wildlife Acts, declares certain plants to be protected throughout the State. It is an offence for a person to cut, pick, uproot or otherwise take, purchase, sell or be in possession of any plant, whether whole or part, of a species mentioned in the order or willfully to alter, damage, destroy or interfere with the habitat of such a species, except under licence issued by me, as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, for scientific, educational or other such purposes.

I am advised that no such licence application in relation to the proposed redevelopment works has been received to date. I also understand that no application for planning permission has yet been referred to me regarding same.

Magdalen Laundries

Questions (643)

Noel Rock

Question:

643. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if funding is available for the development of a Magdalen laundries museum on Séan McDermott Street, Dublin 1; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49799/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The development of the site in question is a matter for Dublin City Council in the first instance. I understand that Dublin City Council is working with all interested parties to deliver on a vision for the site. In the meantime, funding is available from my Department's Cultural Capital Scheme 2019-2022 for arts and cultural venues and the scheme is open for applications until January 2020.

In addition, the National Museum of Ireland is currently hosting an exhibition - Alison Lowry's Dressing Our Hidden Truths - in response to Ireland’s hidden history of Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and Industrial Schools, the first national cultural institution to address this part of our past through artistic means.

Buiséad Fhoras na Gaeilge

Questions (644)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

644. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an aontaíonn sí nach bhfuil cothrom na féinne á fháil ag pobal na Gaeilge de bharr na hinfheistíochta easnamhaí agus míchothroime atá déanta tríd an ngníomhaireacht trasteorann, Foras na Gaeilge, ar laghdaíodh a bhuiséad de €700,000 le trí bliana anuas, i gcomparáid leis an gComhairle Ealaíon, ar méadaíodh a buiséad de €12 mhilliún sa tréimhse chéanna; an lorgóidh an tAire maoiniú breise don Ghaeilge sna meastacháin athbhreithnithe roimh an Nollaig i bhfianaise go mbeidh ardú buiséid ann do na heagraíochtaí trasteorann Uiscebhealaí Éireann agus InterTrade Ireland. [49852/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Is í an Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas (CATT) a cheadaíonn na buiséid do na Forais Trasteorann uile, An Foras Teanga san áireamh. Mar gheall ar chúinsí polaitiúla i dTuaisceart Éireann, áfach, níorbh fhéidir cruinnithe CATT a eagrú ó lár 2016 i Leith agus, dá bhrí sin, níl na buiséid i leith 2017, 2018 agus 2019 ceadaithe go hoifigiúil go fóill. Idir an dá linn, tá sé aontaithe ag na Ranna Airgeadais sa dá dhlínse go bhfeidhmeodh na Forais Trasteorann uile sna blianta 2017, 2018 ,2019 agus 2020 de réir na buiséid a cheadaigh an CATT ina leith don bhliain 2016.

Ar an mbonn sin, i 2019 íocfaidh mo Roinn €11,087,183 (75% den ollbhuiséad CATT) d'Fhoras na Gaeilge. Anuas air sin, cuirfidh mo Roinn maoiniú breise ar fáil d'Fhoras na Gaeilge i ndáil le nithe imfhálaithe mar a bhaineann le Clár na Leabhar Gaeilge (€1,061,165) agus Colmcille (€118,519). Is fiú a nótáil freisin go ligtear d'Fhoras na Gaeilge an t-ioncam breise a ghintear ó dhíol leabhar agus eile a choinneáil le caitheamh ar a chuid gníomhaíochtaí.

Tá maoiniú iomlán de bhreis is €58m curtha i leataobh do chúramaí na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus na nOileán de chuid mo Roinne i gCáináisnéis 2020.

Ba i gcomhthéacs Breatimeacht a bheith ar tí tarlú a cuireadh an Cháináisnéis seo le chéile, rud a chuir iachall ar an Rialtas a bheith stuama maidir lenár gcinntí i ndáil le maoiniú do 2020. É sin ráite, táim sásta go bhfuil na hallúntais atá curtha ar fáil dom le cúpla bliain anuas le caitheamh ar chláir Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta mo Roinne agus na n-eagras atá faoina cúram á chaitheamh go stuama ar mhaithe leis an Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht a chur chun cinn agus a fhorbairt.

Departmental Reports

Questions (645)

Shane Cassells

Question:

645. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of external consultant reports commissioned by her Department in each year from March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the cost of each report; the company involved; and the title and publication date by report in tabular form. [49900/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

With regard to the period 2011 to 2018 I would refer the Deputy to the reply given in response to Parliamentary Question Number 3014 of 23rd July 2019.

I am advised that no expenditure was incurred on external consultancy from my Department's Administrative Budget to date in 2019.

As previously advised to the Deputy in the reply referred to above, my Department commissions engineering, environmental and other experts from time to time to provide technical reports or advice on specific issues. While the providers of these services are consultant engineers, environmental consultants etc., or may describe themselves in other such terms, their work is not classified as consultancy services and is not funded from my Department's Administrative Budget.

Legislative Measures

Questions (646)

Barry Cowen

Question:

646. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of Bills sponsored by her Department that have been enacted since November 2013, in tabular form. [50315/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As I have previously advised the House in my response to Dáil Question No. 283 of 10 October last, four Acts brought forward by my Department have been signed into law since November 2013, details of which are set out in the following table:

Name of Act

Date Act signed into law

National Cultural Institutions (National Concert Hall) Act 2015

10 December 2015

National Archives (Amendment) Act 2018*

14 July 2018

Heritage Act 2018

18 July 2018

Irish Film Board (Amendment) Act 2018

24 December 2018

*Act has not yet been commenced

National Monuments

Questions (647)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

647. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when she plans to re-establish the Moore Street advisory committee; the reason for the delay in doing so; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50405/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I refer the Deputy to my previous response to Parliamentary Questions numbered 658 and 659 of 15 October 2019.

I would like to thank all the members of the Moore Street Advisory Group (MSAG) for their invaluable commitment and contribution over the last two and a half years that has culminated in the production of their Securing History 2 report which I have read with great interest.

Some of the key recommendations in the report include:

- that there is an urgency to securing the fabric of the national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and that the MSAG confirms its support for the OPW to carry out this process as soon as possible;

- that the MSAG recognises that the Hammerson plan is a significant and welcome advance on the previous plan for the area with the potential to develop a positive vision for the inter-related elements of the market, the national monument and the Hammerson site and that Hammerson are to be commended for their recognition of the importance of this area in Irish history, particularly in relation to the events of 1916;

- that an expert group should be appointed to lead the urgent regeneration of the Moore Street market; and

- that the MSAG be reconfigured to a smaller more-focussed group in order to move the process forward as soon as possible.

I would like to assure the Deputy that all of the recommendations in the report are being addressed.

For my part, I have written to Dublin City Council to ask it to act on the recommendation for the expert group to lead the regeneration of the street market and I understand that it is now in the process of being set up. I will shortly be appointing a chair to the reconfigured Advisory Group after which I will be asking all of the constituent bodies for their nominations. My Department is also advancing arrangements for the development of the scoping document I have referred to. Finally, officials in the Department are in contact with the Office of Public Works regarding the necessary works to the national monument at Nos. 14 to 17.

I regard the Securing History 2 report as a significant milestone in the revitalisation of this crucial part of our capital city. The proposals put forward by Hammerson are sympathetic to and embrace the history and heritage of O’Connell Street and the Moore Street area and can be aligned with the objectives of protecting the national monument at Nos. 14 -17, opening it to the public and resonating the mercantile, social and political heritage of the area as a 1916 commemorative quarter. I understand that a recent statement from the Moore Street Traders Association has expressed its members full backing for the proposals which it sees as providing an important opportunity for their businesses to become viable again.