Thursday, 23 July 2020

Questions (8)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin


8. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of the land transferred to the Land Development Agency for the development of residential units; and the projects being considered by the agency for development, detailing the partners, the number of expected units, the stage of the process and targeted completion dates. [17650/20]

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Oral answers (9 contributions) (Question to Housing)

For the information of the House, I tabled these questions in conjunction with Senator Moynihan, the Labour Party spokesperson on housing. I ask the Minister to provide details of the land transferred to the Land Development Agency, LDA, for the development of residential units; and the projects it is considering for development, including details of the partners involved, the number of expected units, the stage of the process and the target completion dates.

I will read a prepared response as it is a very specific question. On its establishment, the LDA had access to an initial tranche of nine sites that have near-term delivery potential for approximately 3,600 new homes. The sites in question are the Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum, Hampton in Balbriggan, Hacketstown in Skerries, Devoy Barracks in Naas, the former Meath Hospital in Dublin city centre, St. Kevin's Hospital in Cork, Columb Barracks in Mullingar, Dyke Road in Galway and Shanganagh, which will be developed in partnership with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

The establishment order of the LDA empowers it to acquire ownership of lands and buildings. However, ownership of these sites will not transfer to it until the Land Development Agency Bill is enacted. The transfer of local authority lands is a matter for local authorities under section 183 of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended. Significant preparatory work is under way in respect of the initial sites, with feasibility planning and other preparatory works already initiated. The LDA has entered into presale agreements with landowners, as appropriate, to ensure that it has full access to the sites to carry out necessary pre-construction activities. All sites are being developed by the LDA, with the exception of the Shanganagh site, which is being developed in partnership with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. All sites except Shanganagh are at pre-planning stage.

The LDA has been granted planning permission for the development of 597 homes on the site at Shanganagh. It is intended that approximately 34% of the units in the development will be for social housing, 51% will be for cost rental and 15% for affordable purchase. Construction is due to start on the site by mid-2021. The tabular statement following this statement sets out the detailed information the Deputy has requested. I have a copy of the report before me and will give it to the Deputy as well as sending it to him electronically.

Update on LDA sites (July 2020)



Projected number of units



Shanganagh, Dublin

17.8 acres

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

Part10 application submitted to An Bord Pleanála and granted. Constructionanticipated to start by mid-2021. Anticipated completion of firsthomes by end 2022.

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

Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum

28 acres

1,200 units (estimated)

Pre-planningDesign team appointed.LDA expects to lodge a planning application in mid-2021 and begin construction in early 2022

Devoy Barracks, Naas

10.08 acres

203 units (estimated)

Pre-planning. Draft masterplan prepared

St. Kevin’s Hospital, Cork

14.5 acres

274 units (estimated)

Pre-planning. Masterplan prepared. SHDpre-application consultation request submitted to ABP end-May.

Meath Hospital, Dublin 8

0.75 acres

100 units (estimated)

Pre-planning.Design team to be appointed

Hacketstown, Skerries

16.8 acres

344 units(estimated)

Design team appointed and SHDpre-application process ongoing.

Castlelands, Balbriggan

60 acres

800 units (estimated)

Pre planning.Masterplan prepared, advancing planning stage design.

Columb Barracks, Mullingar

24.7 acres

200 (estimated)

Pre-planning.Feasibility stage,advancing development framework.

Dyke Road, Galway

4.5 acres

To be determined

Pre-planningAppraisal stage

I thank the Minister for his detailed reply. I appreciate that he will circulate the tabular information. I refer to the potential for different housing models. I made reference to this issue while speaking to the Sinn Féin motion on affordable housing. I acknowledge that the Minster spoke about affordable purchase previously. We previously discussed the idea of a rent-to-buy scheme and the Minister stated he would look into it. There is potential within the LDA model for that type of scheme to be pursued. We previously discussed the scheme that was abandoned ten years ago when the crash came but which had helped certain families.

The current situation is that couples and individuals in Dublin and elsewhere cannot rent and save at the same time. If they are renting, that uses up all their disposable income and they cannot save for a deposit.

Is there potential within the LDA model for a rent-to-buy scheme? I previously discussed the details of such a scheme. It could involve three years of rental, after which one would have a chance to put the rent paid towards a deposit, to keep renting or to leave the scheme. Is that type of model something the Minister could consider within the framework of his proposals?

In preparation for oral questions, I met my officials yesterday and raised the comments made last week by the Deputy regarding rent-to-buy. My officials will be in direct contact with him on the issue. I intend to meet him on the matter. As I stated in response to other Deputies, there are multiple ways of delivering affordable housing. We must be open to looking at other ideas. I spoke to my officials yesterday regarding the suggestion made by the Deputy. They will contact him directly. I intend to meet him officially on the matter if he has time to so do.

The LDA as it will be constituted under the legislation that will be brought in later this year will have latitude, subject to the approval of the House and the Seanad. I am open to considering ideas that have worked in other jurisdictions or in Ireland previously in the context of rent-to-buy and I will discuss them with the Deputy.

Can we weave that sort of model into the LDA legislation or should it be provided for in stand-alone legislation that allows for various models to be pursued? It is a model that worked in the past. It will deal with a particular issue. As I previously mentioned, throughout the country there are several generations living in the same house. Part of the problem is the lost generation of people in their 20s or 30s who are living at home. They cannot afford to rent because they are saving to get onto the property ladder.

Is it possible to be prescriptive within the LDA legislation in the context of dealing with this issue? Can the legislation provide for dealing with various housing schemes that we wish for the LDA to pursue or is it just going to be enabling legislation which will allow us latitude to pursue various housing models such as the rent-to-buy scheme about which we are so passionate?

This will be very important legislation. I assure the Minister that I have kept a very careful record of everything he stated on this issue at the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government. We will compare the legislation with the comments he made.

The key issues are whether the LDA will be a designated activity company, whether it will be fully subject to freedom of information and the lobby register in respect of its commercial and non-commercial activities, and whether it will stick to the 10% social, 30% affordable and 60% private allocation that Fine Gael originally proposed. Will it have fully fledged compulsory purchase order powers? Those will be the tests. I do not expect the Minister to have the answers to all those questions now. When will he introduce the legislation?

For the second time this morning, Deputy Ó Broin is piggybacking on questions tabled by the Labour Party.

As I am entitled to do.

I am just going to answer Deputy Ó Ríordáin first because he took the time to table the question. With the LDA legislation, we will be open to that. I have circulated the Bill among Cabinet members for observation. We are already at that stage. It will come back to me and it will go to the joint Oireachtas committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. I certainly want to see affordability tied into the Bill. On the other elements, I am acutely aware of what I raised when I participated in pre-legislative scrutiny in the last Dáil. This Bill is informed by contributions by the Deputy, me and others who were on that committee. It is detailed legislation that will require much work. We have to get it right. I intend to have freedom of information, compulsory purchase order powers and things like that in the Bill. I will be consulting with the joint Oireachtas committee as well at the right pre-legislative stage. When I publish the Bill is when we will be looking for input, which is what pre-legislative scrutiny is for. I ask Members to look at it in a constructive and open way. We need a land management agency, or whatever we call it. The State needs to manage its land properly.