Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (1372)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

1372. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the Land Development Agency; the number of staff employed by the agency; the grade of each; the annual cost of salaries; the number of consultants employed by the agency; the length of their contracts; the nature of the work; the cost of the contracts to date; the number of offices used by the agency; the location and annual lease cost of each; the number of development sites in which the agency has involvement including locations size, partners and numbers of residential units projected for each site; the projected cost of each development; the level of agency financing projected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6718/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Land Development Agency (LDA) was established on an interim basis in September 2018, by way of an Establishment Order made under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971, pending the enactment of primary legislation when it will be established as a commercial State agency. 

A General Scheme of the Land Development Agency Bill to establish the LDA as a commercial state body on a primary legislative basis was approved by Government for publication, consideration for pre-legislative scrutiny and priority drafting in July 2019. The pre legislative scrutiny process is now complete and the Committee's report was received by my Department in December 2019. This report will be considered in finalising the Bill, which it is intended will be brought to the Oireachtas in the coming months.

The day to day management of the LDA is matter for the LDA Chief Executive and his management team reporting to the LDA Interim Board. Under its Establishment Order, the LDA may appoint such and so many persons to be employees as it may determine.  The LDA will report on its salary and consultancy costs in its annual financial statements in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.  In addition, as with all State bodies operating under the aegis of my Department, arrangements have been put in place by the LDA through which Oireachtas members can request information directly from the Agency in relation to operational matters - in this regard, the LDA may be contacted directly at oireachtas@lda.ie.

In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, on the basis of information provided by the LDA to my Department, I can indicate that the LDA currently has 17 staff, including 3 seconded from other State bodies.  It is currently actively recruiting further staff and expects to have 45 employees by the end of the year, rising to 50 in 2021.  It will have skilled staff in the areas of finance, investment appraisal, investment management, legal, procurement and property development (i.e. quantity surveyors, engineers, planners, architects etc) along with corporate and compliance support roles.  The LDA does not operate a grading system. Contracts are agreed with employees following a competitive hiring process. The LDA is forecasting its annual salary costs to be approximately €3 million by 2021 for a staff complement of 50.

As with any other body responsible for developing large scale projects, the LDA requires professional and technical advisors and these services are tendered for in line with public procurement processes. Public tenders vary in length and do not guarantee any award of services or expenditure until contracts are negotiated. Examples of professional services tendered to date by the LDA include Legal, Architect Lead Design, Project Management, HR, Procurement, Corporate Advisory, Communications.

To date professional fees incurred by the LDA on projects are predominantly planning and design fees and project management fees, according as the LDA conducts feasibility and design work on their portfolio of sites. The total costs incurred across sites is in the region of €1 million to date.  Corporate professional fees, including procurement fees, communications, recruitment, IT and legal, of approximately €500,000 have also been incurred to date during the LDA's set up phase.

The LDA currently leases office space in Ashford House, Tara Street, Dublin 2. The annual rent is €248,000 (ex VAT) with an annual service  charge of €40,000 (ex VAT).  Limerick City and County Council made accommodation available to one agency employee based in Limerick for a period, for which no rent was paid by the LDA.

The LDA currently has access to an initial tranche of 9 sites across the country that have near term delivery potential for 3,600 new homes. Further details of the sites are set out in the following table.

It is also working in partnership with other local authorities around the country. It is running a design review of the Sandy Road Regeneration Project in Galway which has the potential for up to 1,000 homes. It is also working with Limerick City and County Council on a site near Colbert Station in Limerick, funding a masterplan of the site which consists of lands owned by the Council, CIE, the Department of Education and the HSE.

It is not possible to determine total delivery costs of the projects at this stage as the design work has not yet been completed. The LDA will establish appropriate funding mechanisms for each of its projects including proposed investment from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and other sources.

Update on LDA sites

Location

Size

Projected number of units

Status

Partners

Shanganagh, Dublin  

17.8 acres

597 units, of which 200 social, 91 cost purchase, 306 cost rental

Part 10 application submitted to An Bord Pleanala in January 2020 with construction to follow subject to planning permission.

Site being developed in conjunction with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Central Mental Hospital,   Dundrum

28 acres

1,200 units (estimated)

Pre-planning

Design team appointed.

LDA expects to   lodge a planning application in mid-2021 and begin construction in early 2022

 

Devoy Barracks, Naas

13.9 acres

210 units (estimated)

Pre-planning.  Draft masterplan prepared

 

St Kevin’s   Hospital, Cork

14.5 acres

274 units (estimated)

Pre-planning. Masterplan prepared

 

Meath Hospital, Dublin   8

0.5 acres

104

Pre-planning. Design team to be appointed

 

Hackettstown,   Skerries

16.8 acres

340 units (estimated)

Pre planning. Design team appointed

 

Castlelands, Balbriggan

60 acres

800 units (estimated)

Pre planning.

Design team appointed

 

Columb Barracks, Mullingar

24.7 acres

200 (estimated)

Pre-planning. Feasibility stage

 

Dyke Road, Galway

4.5 acres

To be determined

Pre-planning Appraisal stage