Rural Recreation Policy

Questions (336, 345)

Brendan Smith

Question:

336. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if further consideration will be given to a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37853/20]

View answer

Seán Canney

Question:

345. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views in relation to a request by an organisation (details supplied) for an extension to the pheasant shooting season into February 2021 due to the current Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38091/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 336 and 345 together.

I have no role in relation to funding of the activities referred to in the question.

As indicated in my reply to question No 368 of 17 November 2020, it is not possible to be definitive about future public health developments at this time and there are no current plans to extend the hunting season for pheasants.

Legislative Process

Questions (337)

Carol Nolan

Question:

337. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the details of all applications made by his Department to the Oireachtas Business Committee to waive pre-legislative scrutiny of primary and secondary legislation sponsored or initiated by his Department from 1 January 2017 to date; the outcomes of such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37898/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department made six applications to waive pre-legistive scrutiny of primary legislation since 1 January 2017. Details and outcomes of the applications are provided in the attached table.

Table on Legislative Process

Departmental Staff

Questions (338)

Patrick Costello

Question:

338. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the grade at which the chief data protection officer in his Department is employed. [37918/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Data Protection Officer in my Department is at Assistant Principal level.

Tenant Purchase Scheme

Questions (339)

Thomas Gould

Question:

339. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if local authorities can prohibit tenants from entering into the tenant purchase scheme for properties of certain residence sizes for example, two-, four- and five-bed and adapted houses with the purpose of maintaining stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37947/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

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. The Minister is precluded by housing legislation from intervening in relation to the procedures followed, or decisions made, by local authorities in relation to the operation of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme.

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 governing the Scheme provides for a number of specified classes of houses to be excluded from sale, including houses provided to local authorities under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended, houses specifically designed for older persons, group Traveller housing and houses provided to facilitate people with disabilities transferring from institutional care to community-based living.

Local authorities may, within the provisions of the Regulations, exclude certain houses which, in the opinion of the authority, should not be sold for reasons such as proper stock or estate management. It is a matter for each individual housing authority to administer the Scheme in its operational area in line with the over-arching provisions of the governing legislation for the scheme, and in a manner appropriate to its housing requirements.

A review of the first 12 months of the Scheme’s operation has been undertaken. In addition, the Programme for Government commits to maintaining the right of social housing tenants to purchase their own home with some changes to eligibility. The review and the commitments in the Programme for Government are being examined as part of the work on the broader social housing reform agenda. I expect to be in a position to finalise changes to the Scheme once the work on these reform measures is complete.

Residential Tenancies Board

Questions (340)

Michael Creed

Question:

340. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he has received correspondence (details supplied); if he will address the issues raised regarding the relationship between the RTB and sheltered housing providers generally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37963/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2020 regulates the landlord-tenant relationship in the rented residential sector and sets out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Act to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.

The Residential Tenancies Acts apply to dwellings let by approved housing bodies (AHBs) to social housing tenants since 7 April 2016, making the RTB dispute resolution service available to the sector and providing tenancy protections.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 made provision to enhance the rental data to be provided to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), including provision for the annual registration of tenancies. The aim is to gather more accurate and detailed tenancy and rental data on an annual basis to improve the information available to assist with policy formulation in the residential rental sector.

The amendments to sections 137 and 137A of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended, update the RTB tenancy registration fee in the context of the move to annual registration - providing a €40 fee per tenancy registration by private providers and €20 per tenancy registration by an Approved Housing Body (AHB). Under the new annual registration requirements, a fee can only be charged in respect of the same dwelling once per year and a discounted single registration fee (€170 for a private landlord, €85 for an AHB landlord) can be applied where the same landlord registers up to 10 tenancies of dwellings comprised in the same property.

The key change from the existing tenancy registration fees is that AHBs will be charged fees that are half those applicable to private providers – currently, all landlords pay the same registration fee. The reduction in AHB fees is provided in recognition of the public service that they provide in meeting the housing needs of those in receipt of social housing supports, and of AHBs' charitable (or similar) status.

The legal provisions requiring the annual registration of tenancies have not yet come into operation. Preparations are underway in the RTB to roll out a simple online registration system to cater for annual registration.

Strategic Infrastructure Provision

Questions (341)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

341. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the strategic housing developments approved by An Bord Pleanála as of 31 October 2020 including details of the local authority, the number of units per development and the status of each development in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38004/20]

View answer

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.

Since the new SHD arrangements came into operation up until end October 2020, the Board had received 265 SHD applications and had decided 230 cases. The Board had granted permission in 168 cases in respect of a total of 44,042 housing units (comprising 12,229 houses, 24,839 apartments and 6,974 build to rent), as well as 195 shared accommodation units and 11,934 student bed spaces under the SHD arrangements.

The number of developments and the number of housing units or student bed spaces in respect of which permission has been granted under the SHD arrangements is broken down on a local authority basis in the table below:

Local Authority

No. of Applications Granted Permission

Houses

Apartments

BTR

Total Residential

Shared Accommodation

Student Bed spaces

Cork City Council

15

1,020

1,520

319

2,859

0

1,584

Cork County Council

5

1,182

458

0

1,640

0

0

Dublin City Council

40

12

5,384

4,933

10,329

0

3,657

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

33

980

5,595

796

7,371

195

3,571

Fingal County Council

11

514

1,695

0

2,209

0

0

Galway City Council

8

182

546

0

728

0

2,236

Galway County Council

2

284

56

0

340

0

0

Kildare County Council

16

2,847

2,003

0

4,850

0

483

Laois County Council

1

115

40

0

155

0

0

Louth County Council

5

494

620

0

1,114

0

0

Meath County Council

9

1,804

1,559

0

3,363

0

0

South Dublin County Council

15

1,500

4,255

926

6,681

0

403

Tipperary County Council

1

112

105

0

217

0

0

Waterford City and County Council

1

199

144

0

343

0

0

Westmeath County Council

1

237

189

0

426

0

0

Wexford County Council

1

231

65

0

296

0

0

Wicklow County Council

4

516

605

0

1,121

0

0

Grand Total

168

12,229

24,839

6,974

44,042

195

11,934

The status of individual developments which have been granted permission under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, is not routinely maintained by my Department given that some 30,000 planning permissions are granted nationally on an annual basis. My Department has conducted periodic research on the activation rate of SHD permissions and the most recent data in this regard would indicate that works have commenced on 29% of SHD permissions granted to date since the arrangements came into operation. There can be some delay, for various reasons, in the activation of housing developments post the granting of permission. In this regard, if permissions granted in 2020 are excluded from the calculations, the data indicates that works have commenced on 45% of the SHD permissions granted in 2018 (when the first permissions were granted) and 2019.

Local Authority Housing

Questions (342)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

342. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the breakdown in the first half of 2020 of Part V units acquired or leased by local authority area by the number of units that were leased and the number that were purchased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38019/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Programme for Government commits to increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000, with an emphasis on new builds. In 2021, the total funding being made available for the delivery of housing programmes is €3.3bn. This includes funding to deliver 12,750 social homes through build, acquisition and leasing. A major focus of this investment is the delivery of new build, with an overall target of 9,500 new homes. The build target includes the delivery of 5,250 new homes by local authorities, 2,950 by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and 1,300 new homes through Part V.

In 2020 to the end of Quarter 2, Part V has accounted for 61 units, which includes units delivered by local authorities and AHBs. Detailed information on Part V delivery is available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/affordable-housing/affordable-housing-and-part-v-statistics

My Department publishes comprehensive programme level statistics on a quarterly basis on all social housing delivery activity under Rebuilding Ireland. This is published on the statistics page of my Department’s website, at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision

Tribunals of Inquiry

Questions (343)

John McGuinness

Question:

343. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of tribunals, enquiries or investigations being undertaken currently by his Department; the number that are in the process of being set up; the number in which the terms of reference are not complete or not agreed; the cost of all to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38044/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is not undertaking nor in the process of setting up any Tribunals or Inquiries.

Following an investigation, a report is being compiled into the alleged role, if any, of Dublin City Council regarding payments made to certain individuals for the purpose of facilitating the protection of social housing developments in Ballyfermot/Cherry Orchard, Dublin 10, against anti-social behaviour, intimidation of workers and criminal damage. The report was commissioned under the Local Government Act 2001 and has cost €39,475 to date. The terms of reference of this statutory review are available at

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/eoghan-murphy-td-appoints-patrick-butler-sc-as-authorised-person-to-investigate-dcc-allegations/

The Programme for Government provides for an examination of defective housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing report, ‘Safe as Houses". Terms of Reference for this examination have not been completed and, to date, there have been no costs arising.

Housing Policy

Question No. 345 answered with Question No. 336.

Questions (344)

Noel Grealish

Question:

344. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will provide a copy of the ministerial guidelines issued in 2005 regarding one-off rural housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38090/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Rural Housing 2005, planning authorities are required to frame the planning policies in their development plans in a balanced and measured way that ensures the housing needs of rural communities are met, while avoiding excessive urban-generated housing. The 2005 Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines are available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Planning/FileDownLoad%2C1620%2Cen.pdf.

The National Planning Framework (the NPF) provides an important strategic basis for interpreting the 2005 Guidelines. National Policy Objective 15 of the NPF fully supports the concept of the sustainable development of rural areas by encouraging growth and arresting decline in areas that have experienced low population growth or decline in recent decades, while simultaneously indicating the need to manage certain areas around cities and towns.

The 2005 Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines are framed in the context of the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) 2002. Given the many changes in policy and in wider society since 2002/5, the superseding of the NSS by the NPF in 2018, together with other factors, there is now merit in updating the Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines in a broader rural development and settlement context. My Department has commenced scoping this work.

In the interim, the NPF objectives together with the 2005 Guidelines, enable planning authorities to continue to draft and adopt county development plan policies for one-off housing in rural areas.

Question No. 345 answered with Question No. 336.

Housing Agency

Questions (346)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

346. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if a list of the 35 individual projects that have been allocated serviced site funding to date of €127 million will be provided; the amount allocated to each project; the total project cost; the local authority responsible and the location of the project; and the total number of affordable units to be delivered on each site. [38163/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under my Department's Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), €310 million has been allocated to provide infrastructure to support the delivery of more affordable new homes for purchase or rent in those areas where local authorities have identified an affordability challenge and the viability to deliver homes and below open market prices.

Funding under the SSF is available for new-build homes on local authority land. With a maximum of €50,000 funding available per home, at least 6,200 more affordable homes, to buy or rent at below market values, can be facilitated. To date, Serviced Sites funding of €127 million has been approved in principle in support of 35 projects in 14 local authority areas, which will assist in the delivery of almost 3,200 affordable homes.

The requested information on each of these 35 projects is available on the Rebuilding Ireland's website as follows;

Call 1 https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-gives-the-go-ahead-for-ten-local-authority-sites-for-affordable-housing-under-the-serviced-sites-fund/

Call 2 https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-funding-of-e84m-to-support-delivery-of-1770-affordable-homes-under-the-ssf/

It should be noted that SSF Approval in Principle is granted to local authority applications for infrastructure that will support the delivery of more affordable homes on its sites. As local authorities then engage in detailed design, local consultation, the planning process and procurement thereafter, the nature and scale of the projects will generally evolve. This can lead to updates in the infrastructure, SSF funding made available and the final number and type of homes to be developed.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Questions (347)

Seán Canney

Question:

347. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on the long-term impact of the charge of €30 per square metre that Transport Infrastructure Ireland has introduced for each square metre of road carriageway opened; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this cost does not qualify for grant assistance from his Department; if his attention has been further drawn to the significant financial burden that this is placing on group water schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38240/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Road Management Office (RMO), a local authority shared service, was set up in late 2014 following development of a business case by the local authority sector. Its set-up followed approval by the Public Services Reform Oversight Group, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the award of the shared service to a consortium of Donegal, Cork County, Cork City, Kerry and Tipperary local authorities.

The RMO’s current functions include developing and providing supports to local authorities in the progressive development of best practice and supporting ICT tools for road pavement management and road opening licensing.

My Department is aware of the Long Term Impact Charge which is now a component of the road opening licensing charge. My Department is currently engaging with the RMO and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) on the issue of its cost impacts for the rural water sector.

I also understand that the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, the representative organisation for group water schemes, is aware of the matter and is similarly engaging with the RMO and the CCMA through the relevant forum.

Homeless Accommodation

Questions (348, 355, 356)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

348. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of inspections of homeless services that have been completed under the national quality standards framework by local authority area; if the inspections included private operators of emergency accommodation; the outcomes of the inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38372/20]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

355. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of contracts for new hostel accommodation for persons who become homeless from 1 January 2019 to date that have been awarded to private providers; the number awarded to not-for-profit NGO providers; the criteria used for selecting operators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38514/20]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

356. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of inspections that have been carried out to ensure compliance with the national quality standards framework in emergency accommodation in 2019 and to date in 2020; the number of full-time staff dedicated to inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38515/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 348, 355 and 356 together.

The National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) for homeless services is in place nationally for local authority and NGO delivered services.

The NQSF has been developed to ensure a consistent approach in how local authorities and service providers respond to the needs of those experiencing homelessness and to improve the quality of services provided. In general, the operation of emergency accommodation facilities is contracted out by local authorities, under service level agreements, to NGOs involved in the delivery of homeless services.

Monitoring of services and the undertaking of site visits under the NQSF are a matter for the individual local authorities. Negotiation of contracts is likewise a matter between the local authority and the accommodation provider. My Department does not hold the details requested by the Deputy.

Architectural Heritage

Questions (349)

Richard Bruton

Question:

349. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if funds are available for the upkeep of protected structures on the grounds of schools or other institutions that do not have their own resources for such work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38381/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through two grant schemes which are, in the main, administered by the local authorities. These are the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF). Both schemes would accept applications for works to conserve protected structures on the grounds of schools or other institutions, provided they fulfil the eligibility criteria. Eligible structures would normally be on the Record of Protected Structures of the relevant local authority. In the context of a particular protected structure on the grounds of a school or other institution, the best advice for the owner may be to contact the Architectural Conservation Officer in the Local Authority. They will be able to advise on the various types of funding available to assist with the building.

In 2020, 450 heritage projects across every county in the country were awarded a combined sum of over €4.3m under these schemes. In addition a further €1m was announced for 52 built heritage projects under the Government's July Jobs Stimulus Package. The funding will supplement 28 projects already approved under the BHIS and HSF, as well as 13 new projects categorised as urgent built heritage works. The funding will also support one project under priority actions identified in the Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan for the Built and Archaeological Heritage, and will assist with the progression of 10 projects with a climate change element at properties managed by the Irish Heritage Trust.

I recently announced details of funding for the 2021 grant schemes, under which €3m is being made available under the BHIS and a further €3m under the HSF. Details are available on my Department’s website here

(https://www.housing.gov.ie/heritage/built-heritage/financial-assistance-architectural-heritage)

and on the website of each local authority. Applications to the local authorities are open generally until 29 January 2021.

Wildlife Control

Questions (350)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

350. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the grounds upon which he ordered the release of hares, which had been legally caught under the 2020-21 hare netting licence as granted under the Wildlife Act 1976, when there is no precedent for the limit of time in which a hare can be held under said licence as long as it is within the period of validity of the licence. [38383/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Irish Coursing Club (ICC) announced a suspension with effect from 21 October 2020 of both parkland and open coursing events due to the Level 5 COVID - 19 restrictions. At that time I was aware that a number of coursing clubs had already captured hares on the basis of forthcoming coursing meetings which were subsequently suspended by the ICC.

Wild hares which are a protected species, are better off in the wild rather than being held in captivity in groups in confined enclosures. Accordingly, given that

- by 1 December hares would have been held in captivity for at least 6 weeks from the date of introduction of level 5 restrictions

- in many cases hares would already have been held in captivity for a number of weeks prior to the introduction of level 5 restrictions and

- it was not clear at what point after 1 December it might be possible for coursing to recommence in terms of animal welfare and the conservation of this protected species, my Department requested that coursing clubs would release captured hares back into the wild and the ICC agreed to do so.

Foreshore Issues

Questions (351)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

351. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the action it is proposed to take over in-fill carried out at a location (details supplied) without a foreshore licence in view of the fact the matter is going on for a long time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38414/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department’s legal advisors and officials are currently exploring a number of potential options in seeking to progress the matter in question. The legislation and policies surrounding the management of developments and activities in the marine space is being updated under the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill and the draft National Marine Planning Framework which may guide the future direction of this case.

This case involves complex legal issues, and consideration must also be given to how the public interest is best served in the context of the future management of the area in question.

Tenant Purchase Scheme

Questions (352)

Alan Dillon

Question:

352. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of tenant purchase scheme applications received by Mayo County Council since the launch of the new scheme in January 2016; the number disallowed due to the fact they could not meet the income threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38489/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year

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. The Minister is precluded by housing legislation from intervening in relation to the procedures followed, or decisions made, by local authorities in relation to the operation of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme.

As my Department does not routinely collate information on the number of tenant purchase applications made or refused, the data requested by the Deputy is not held by my Department. Data on the number of tenant purchases (sale of dwellings by local authorities) completed is available at:

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/attachments/3l1-sale-la-hse-area-1994-2019.xlsx.

A review of the first 12 months of the Scheme’s operation has been undertaken. In addition, the Programme for Government commits to maintaining the right of social housing tenants to purchase their own home with some changes to eligibility. The review and the commitments in the Programme for Government are being examined as part of the work on the broader social housing reform agenda. I expect to be in a position to finalise changes to the Scheme once the work on these reform measures is complete.