Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund

Questions (120)

Imelda Munster

Question:

120. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if funding for the port access northern cross route will be released under the next tranche of LIHAF funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38271/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

As an initiative of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) is primarily designed to fund the provision of public off-site infrastructure to relieve critical infrastructure blockages and enable housing developments to be built on key sites at scale.

In 2018, 30 projects received final LIHAF approval and the available funding is now fully committed. Louth County Council had 2 projects approved under LIHAF, Mount Avenue Dundalk and Newtown Drogheda.

Louth County Council has however submitted an application for funding support for the Northern Cross Route under Call 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.

This is one of seventy-six complex proposals received under Call 2, with every local authority submitting at least one proposal for URDF support, and each of which will require detailed assessment.

This assessment process is in train at present. Before the end of the year I intend to announce a new tranche of approved proposals, which will augment the existing pipeline of projects from Call 1 and contribute to the achievement of Programme for Government commitments and the objectives of the National Planning Framework and Project Ireland 2040.

Strategic Infrastructure Provision

Questions (121)

Neale Richmond

Question:

121. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the strategic housing development programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38068/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

The primary purpose of the SHD arrangements is to significantly speed up the planning decision-making process, thereby providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined in the planning system, while also fully respecting the statutory requirements for consultation and having regard to observations submitted.

An external review of the SHD arrangements was carried out in 2019. This review particularly highlighted that while the arrangements had generally been a success in providing a fast-track development consent process for developers of large-scale housing developments, the number of SHD permissions that have commenced development is less than might have been expected.

In this regard, with a view to influencing the earlier activation of housing related planning permissions, the new Programme for Government – Our Shared Future commits to introducing a "use it or lose it" condition for all planning permissions of ten housing units or more. My Department is presently progressing the drafting of the necessary legislation providing for the introduction of the proposed new "use it or lose it" housing-related planning arrangements. This will be progressed over the coming months.

The Programme for Government also commits to not extending the SHD arrangements beyond their legislative expiry of end December 2021, which has now been extended to February 2022 arising from Covid-related shutdown of the planning system for 8 weeks, which extended all planning timelines by 8 weeks.

Mayoral Election

Questions (122)

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

122. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the position regarding the directly elected mayor of Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38468/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future has a commitment to "pass legislation to allow the first directly elected mayor in Limerick to be elected in 2021".

In that regard, I have recently received and am considering the report of the Implementation Advisory Group (IAG), which was established in December 2019 to advise on how best to shape the role of the directly elected Mayor with executive functions (DEM) for Limerick.

The report sets out entirely new governance arrangements for Limerick City and County Council with the direct election of a mayor with executive functions. It details the roles and responsibilities of the new office, as well as the accountability relationships between the elected council, the Mayor and the chief executive within the new administrative framework.

The report articulates a very ambitious future vision for Limerick City and County Council with the direct election of a mayor, making recommendations for greater autonomy, devolved powers and functions, and more financial independence, which will require careful consideration across Government.

It is intended to bring the report to Government in the very near future and also to seek Government approval to begin the drafting of a general scheme of a bill to allow for the establishment of the office of directly elected Mayor in Limerick and the holding of a mayoral election in 2021, in accordance with the Programme for Government commitment.

Local Authority Housing

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 109.

Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 103.

Questions (123)

Martin Browne

Question:

123. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on Tipperary County Council evicting three persons from a property due to the fact that they are over the threshold (details supplied); his further views on the way in which they will be put on the housing list as a result and will claim the HAP payment until they are rehoused; his views that this course of action is going to cost Tipperary County Council more in the long run; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38277/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Oversight and practical management of housing waiting lists is a matter for the relevant local authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, and associated regulations. Specifically, section 63(3) of the Local Government Act 2001 provides that, subject to law, a local authority is independent in the performance of its functions.

Section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, requires all local authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households.

Decisions on the qualification of specific persons for social housing support and the allocation of that support are matters solely for the local authority concerned. As Minister, I am precluded by law from becoming involved in individual cases.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 109.
Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 103.

Social and Affordable Housing

Questions (126)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

126. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage further to Parliamentary Question No. 55 of 6 October 2020,the status of the work of the Galway social housing task force; if he has received the further report from the chair of the task force; the number of times the task force has met to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38365/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Galway Social Housing Taskforce is continuing its work in line with its terms of reference, with five meetings to date in 2020. The Galway Councils have a combined target of just over 2,000 social housing homes to be delivered through build, acquisitions and leasing in the period 2018 to 2021. The work of the Taskforce confirms that the Councils remain strongly committed to improving and accelerating social housing delivery in Galway across both local authority areas.

An update provided by the Chair of the Taskforce earlier this year confirmed that both local authorities are intensively involved in the Taskforce’s work and that it is providing them with an important opportunity for direct, roundtable dialogue with my Department, the Housing Agency and the Approved Housing Body sector, so that each Galway authority can be supported in building the momentum essential for expanded delivery.

My Department engages with the Taskforce Chair regularly and I understand that the Chief Executives of both authorities report to their Councils on the work of the Taskforce following each meeting.

The construction of new social homes has accelerated significantly in Galway, with 278 homes being delivered in 2019, a substantial increase on the 100 delivered in 2018. An overview of construction activity in each local authority is detailed in the Social Housing Construction Status Report, which provides scheme level detail on new build activity in all local authorities including Galway City and County.

The most recent publication covers the period up to the end of Q2 2020 and is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-obrien-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q2-2020/. The report shows at the end of Q2 2020 there were 731 homes in the construction pipeline for delivery in Galway and this is being added to on a continuing basis, as additional proposals are brought forward by the Councils. I want this momentum to be sustained and I have assured them, and all local authorities, of my full support in delivering on their ambition.

Irish Water

Questions (127)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

127. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he has raised concerns with Irish Water on the issue of connection fees for water and sewerage for residential new builds and the taking in charge of developer built wastewater infrastructure in newly built estates. [38312/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels in accordance with Section 7 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013. This includes the connection of newly built residential developments to the water services network, including Irish Water's protocols pertaining to the use of developer provided infrastructure. Irish Water has been given statutory responsibility in this domain, and I, as Minister, have no function in relation to this matter.

Responsibility for the independent economic regulation of Irish Water has been assigned to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities. In accordance with Part V of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013, the Commission is responsible for the determination of the charges, including connection charges, and charging arrangements, that shall apply to new customers of Irish Water. The Commission has come to its own independent assessment of the appropriate charges and charging arrangements that shall apply to new network connections.

My Department liaises closely with Irish Water and the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities in order to ensure that there is a common understanding of the respective roles that have been given to Irish Water, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, and the Minister, as appropriate, under the Water Services Acts 2007 to 2017, and that the legislative provisions are implemented in a coordinated and cohesive manner.

Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Defective Building Materials

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 65.

Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 93.

Questions (128)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

128. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he is progressing a remediation scheme for defective blocks containing pyrite. [38081/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Dwellings Damaged by the Use of Defective Concrete Blocks in Construction (Remediation) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2020 provide for a grant scheme of financial assistance to support affected homeowners in the counties of Donegal and Mayo, to carry out the necessary remediation works to dwellings that have been damaged due to the use of defective concrete blocks. The regulations for the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme came in to operation on 31 January 2020 and opened for applications at the end of June 2020.

The Scheme is targeted at assisting a group of affected homeowners in the counties of Donegal and Mayo, who have no other practicable options to access redress. It is not a compensation scheme and the regulations apply only in respect of qualifying works that have not commenced prior to confirmation of grant approval being issued in respect of a dwelling by the relevant local authority. Homeowners cannot seek the recoupment of costs associated with the remediation of a dwelling undertaken either prior to the commencement, or outside, of the scheme.

The scheme outlines five remedial options ranging from rebuilding on existing foundations to replacing of external walls. The maximum approved costs per dwelling under the scheme are significant and range from €55,000 to €275,000 depending on the remedial option. A grant of 90% of the approved costs associated with the necessary remediation works, subject to a maximum for each remedial option, or 90% of the actual cost of the remedial works, whichever is the lesser, is available under the scheme.

Budget 2020 provided €20 million to fund the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme for the participating counties of Donegal and Mayo. Budget 2021 includes the same financial commitment for the scheme.

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 65.
Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 93.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (131)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

131. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the implementation of the report of the expert group on Traveller accommodation. [38308/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 365 and 366 together.

My Department operates a broad range of programmes which support the housing needs of people with disabilities. This includes the delivery of new social homes through local authority and Approved Housing Body led build, acquisition and leasing schemes and also the provision of key supports to maintain people with disabilities within their existing homes.

In respect of construction funding, over the period 2016-2019, my Department provided almost €2.1 billion to local authorities to deliver new social homes, including new homes for people with disabilities. I will arrange for my officials to provide the Deputy with this breakdown by local authority. The detailed breakdown of housing funding in 2020 will be finalised at year-end. Prior to 2016 housing expenditure was reported on a programme basis, which encompassed multiple delivery streams.

The Programme for Government commits to increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000. Budget 2021 has made available €3.3bn towards the wide range of housing programmes, which will deliver 12,750 new social homes next year, including a record 9,500 new Build homes. These new homes are designed and planned using guidelines, build standards and planning regulations supported by my Department.

The Capital Assistance Scheme also provides for the delivery of homes for persons with disabilities. In addition, my Department also provides a range of specialised grants, including the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability scheme (up to €30,000) and the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme (up to €6,000). These grants assist people with disabilities to have necessary adaptations, repairs or improvement works carried out and to cover a basic suite of works to address the mobility problems of a member of a household.

It is a matter for local authorities to ensure that the number and specific types of dwellings provided in their social housing developments meet local needs. My Department does not hold specific details in relation to the number of individual houses built or procured for persons with disabilities in each local authority during this period. However, this information should be available from the individual local authorities.