Proposed Legislation

Question No. 372 answered with Question No. 72.

Questions (371)

Steven Matthews

Question:

371. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans to launch a public awareness campaign regarding the monuments and archaeological heritage Bill to outline the merits of the Bill and its importance. [38650/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The statutory basis for the protection and preservation of monuments and archaeological objects is currently provided by the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014; the 1930 Act having been much amended since 1930. The existing legislation would be entirely replaced by the proposed Monuments and Archaeological Heritage Bill.

The intended purpose of the proposed legislation inter alia, is to streamline the current multiple systems of monument protection into a single Register with two levels of protection for monuments and to harmonise the system for protection of underwater cultural heritage with that for archaeological heritage on land. The introduction of a statutory reporting scheme, with associated automatic legal protection, for new discoveries of archaeological sites will represent a major strengthening of legal protection for archaeological sites. The various forms of licenses and consents that exist under current legislation would be replaced with an integrated licensing system for works and other activities regulated under it.

The proposed Bill represents, therefore, an important measure of regulatory reform to the benefit of all whose activities are regulated under the existing Acts (including landowners, developers and heritage professionals) while at the same time enhancing protection for the archaeological heritage itself. It also provides for clear civil enforcement powers in relation to contraventions of the legislation. Under the existing Acts, criminal prosecution is the only statutory option for dealing with statutory breaches. This will be combined with modernised prosecution and evidentiary procedures so that prosecution will also remain a viable option where merited.

Consultation in preparing the proposed Bill has taken place with Government bodies and other key stakeholders and it is now at an advanced stage of progress. I look forward to engaging with other key interest groups in due course in order to broaden public knowledge and awareness of this very significant piece of proposed legislation.

Question No. 372 answered with Question No. 72.

Housing Provision

Questions (373)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

373. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason for the delay in the construction of social housing at Clonmacken, County Limerick (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38659/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The detailed advancement of housing and other works under the Rebuilding Ireland programme is a matter in the first instance for Limerick City and County Council.

My Department has issued all necessary approvals on this project and construction is underway. The management of the building contract is a matter for Limerick City and County Council. I understand that the Council has encountered some delays with the progression of this project but is endeavouring to expedite delivery. My Department is engaging with the Council to see that work is completed as soon as possible.

Housing Provision

Questions (374)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

374. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason for the delay in the construction of housing at Cosgrave Park, Moyross, Limerick city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38660/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The detailed advancement of housing and other works under the Limerick Regeneration programme is a matter in the first instance for Limerick City and County Council.

The Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan (LRFIP) published in 2013, heralded a move away from demolitions and towards a prioritisation of the refurbishment option along with the delivery of some targeted, high quality, new housing construction with a continued focus on community and economic supports. This has resulted in the completion of several projects to date in the area.

Regeneration projects are multi-faceted and complex which can cause delays to progress. My Department continues to work with the Council in order to progress the programme as expeditiously as possible. Many projects are at various stages of the approval process and a number of projects will go on site in the coming months.

The LRFIP runs until 2023 and it is envisaged that there will be projects ongoing until this date.

Housing Provision

Questions (375)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

375. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will report on the lack of construction of housing in Ballygrennan Close, Moyross, Limerick city; when he anticipates construction commencing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38661/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The detailed advancement of housing and other works under the Rebuilding Ireland programme is a matter in the first instance for Limerick City and County Council.

My Department has received a submission from Limerick City and County Council in respect of a housing project at Ballygrennan Close, Moyross, Limerick. My Department is currently examining the proposal.

Property Registration Authority

Questions (376)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

376. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the Property Registration Authority. [38668/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In relation to any specific case with the Property Registration Authority (PRA), arrangements have been put in place to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. Further information in relation to the specific case referred to may be obtained by contacting the dedicated e-mail address in respect of the PRA at reps@prai.ie.

Heritage Projects

Questions (377, 378, 380)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

377. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of heritage projects currently in hand or listed for attention in terms of projection and restoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38685/20]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

378. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the degree to which buildings, monuments or sites at risk have been drawn to his attention; if restoration or conservation is in hand or proposed in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38686/20]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

380. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of heritage issues that have come to his attention as requiring an urgent response; if he will prioritise such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38688/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 377, 378 and 380 together.

My role with regard to the protection and management of our archaeological and architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, including the Planning Acts and the National Monuments Acts, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.

As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts of approximately 1,000 national monuments located at approximately 750 sites. The Acts allow me to make a preservation order where I consider a national monument to be at risk.

Responsibility for management and maintenance of historical buildings and sites in State ownership, and management of related visitor facilities, rests with the Office of Public Works (OPW) which also maintains a significant ongoing programme of conservation works. This year, my Department has allocated €350,000 to the OPW for the maintenance of historic buildings and sites and we expect to allocate a further €400,000 before the end of the year.

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). This year some 450 heritage projects across every county in the country are benefiting from a combined sum of over €4.3m under these schemes.

An extra €1m in funding was secured for built heritage projects under the July Jobs Stimulus Package 2020, which aims to offset some of the effects of Covid-19. This funding supplemented 28 BHIS and SRF projects and supported 12 new ones, in addition to capital works by the Heritage Council and the Irish Heritage Trust.

I recently launched the BHIS and HSF for 2021, with a combined allocation of €6m, an increase of nearly 40%. Full details are available on my Department’s website and on the website of each local authority.

My Department announced a call for projects in September under the Community Monuments Fund (CMF) for investment in our archaeological heritage, which is being funded under the July Jobs Stimulus Package. The CMF is prioritised for local authorities, private owners and custodians, and community groups for the care, maintenance, protection and promotion of local monuments and historic sites and the provision of any required measures to ensure safe access during the Covid-19 pandemic. Total funding available for the scheme in 2020 is €900,000 and 69 projects nationally are being supported this year. I hope shortly to announce a continuance of the scheme for next year.

As the Deputy will be aware, preparation is well advanced in my Department on Heritage Ireland 2030, Ireland’s new national heritage plan. It will be a coherent, comprehensive and inspiring framework of values, principles, strategic priorities and actions to guide and inform the heritage sector over the next decade. Heritage Ireland 2030 will be published in the new year and will address priority issues for heritage that are identified in the Programme for Government.

Environmental Policy

Question No. 380 answered with Question No. 377.

Questions (379)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

379. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the degree to which his Department has engaged with stakeholders on environmental issues; and the progress to date in this regard. [38687/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has responsibility for environmental issues spanning many areas of our functional responsibilities including Water Sector Policy, Marine Environment, Foreshore, Planning Legislation and Policy, Built Environment, Climatology, Forecasting, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Built Heritage and Peatlands.

My Department engages with stakeholders on such environmental issues in various ways. Such engagement may take the form of standing consultative committees or groups, written consultations, specific meetings or briefings, for example.

Advisory groups such as the Water Advisory Body, the National Planning Framework Advisory Group and the National Marine Planning Framework Stakeholder Advisory Group have been established to facilitate engagement across a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

As there is such a broad array of environmental issues being dealt with in my Department, it is not possible to provide details of each stakeholder engagement but, if the Deputy wishes to submit a question about a specific matter, I may be in a position to provide more details. Details of all public consultations undertaken by my Department are available on the website at https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/archived/current/type/public-consultations.

Question No. 380 answered with Question No. 377.

Housing Data

Questions (381)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

381. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of families who have in the year to date applied for local authority or similar housing, affordable housing and-or special needs housing, by county, with a view to responding at the earliest possible date to this need; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38689/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area is provided in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA).

The most recent SSHA, conducted in June 2019, shows that 68,693 households were assessed as qualified for and being in need of social housing support. This represents a decrease of 3,165 households or 4.4% on the last assessment in June 2018. Since 2016, the numbers have decreased from 91,600 to 68,693, a reduction of 25%.

Following is the link to the summary report for 2019 which includes breakdowns by each local authority, across a range of categories, including the Main Need for Social Housing Support which captures needs that a household may have based on a disability.

In relation to the questions posed by the Deputy regarding the number of families that have in the year to date applied for local authority or special needs housing, information of this specific type is not held by my Department. It should be noted that the SSHA is a point in time snapshot of the demand for social housing support in each local authority area and does not necessarily reflect the dynamic nature of entry to and exit from the housing waiting lists.

https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2019_dec_2019_web_1.pdf

While the SSHA is normally conducted in or around June, given the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on local authorities and nature of the work involved in conducting the SSHA, the SSHA for 2020 was deferred to allow local authorities to continue to focus their resources on immediate priorities. However, recognising that the SSHA is a very important part of the evidence base for housing policy at both local authority and national level, I have directed local authorities to carry out the SSHA 2020 in November 2020.

Local authorities assess an application for social housing supports from people with disabilities in the same manner as other applications but take account of the specific needs outlined by that person in their application for supports. If specific adaptations are required to accommodate an applicant for social housing supports the applicant submits a report from an Occupational Therapist.

One of the key measures achieved in 2016 under the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability was the establishment of Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) in all housing authorities, to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level. These are chaired by Directors of Housing in each authority and include HSE and disability representative organisations. Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet identified and emerging need over the next five years. These Plans, along with the annual Summary of Social Housing Assessments, will allow local authorities to plan more strategically for the housing needs of people with a disability and will support the delivery of accommodation using all appropriate housing supply mechanisms.

In relation to affordable housing, the first project that will deliver affordable homes via the Serviced Sites Fund will be Boherboy Road in Cork City next year.

I intend to bring forward any necessary provisions to underpin the provision of affordable housing in a forthcoming Affordable Housing Bill which will be brought to Government in the coming weeks.

House Prices

Questions (382)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

382. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the average price of a house now deemed to be in the affordable category; the number built, acquired or under construction at present throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38690/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In terms of the delivery of more affordable homes for sale by local authorities, €310m is available for Serviced Sites infrastructure funding that will support the delivery of up to 6,200 new homes that will be made available under this scheme. The first SSF project that will be deliver affordable homes will be Boherboy Road in Cork City in early next year at prices ranging from €200,000.

Details of all SSF projects that have received approval in principle under both SSF calls, and the number of more affordable homes whose delivery will be supported by SSF funding are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following links:

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/

The selling price of homes that will be made available for purchase under the local authority affordable dwelling purchase arrangements will be influenced by a number of factors which will vary significantly from individual development to development. This includes the overall development cost of each particular development the housing type/tenure mix involved and the local housing market. The majority of the projects approved for funding under the SSF are at the planning and design stage. As such, the final sales prices will not be fully determined until planning permission has been obtained and after the procurement process for construction of the development in question has been completed.

In Budget 2021, €75 million was ring-fenced for the national affordable purchase shared equity scheme. I intend to target the scheme at first time buyers, who are seeking to buy a new home but who cannot quite secure the full mortgage amount to do so at the present time. Subject to the final qualifying criteria, the scheme would see the State take a limited equity stake in a property, in order to help more people meet the cost of buying a new home with their available mortgage.

To this end, significant preparatory work has already been carried out by my Department working primarily with the Housing Agency and the Department of Finance. Intensive engagement continues with key stakeholders informing the final detailed parameters of the scheme, as well as with home builders to seek to increase the output of new homes in response to the new scheme.

It is envisaged that the homes delivered under this scheme, supported by Government investment, will be made available to applicants who meet defined eligibility criteria. The precise eligibility conditions are currently being developed in light of the engagement outlined.

Other measures, such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, are also available to eligible purchasers nationally to make home ownership more affordable.

An enhanced Help to Buy scheme was announced as part of the €7 billion July stimulus package, which was extended to December 2021 as part of Budget 2021. This allows first-time buyers purchasing a newly-built home – or building one themselves – to claim back up to €30,000 paid in income tax and DIRT on bank deposit interest over the last four years. Full details of the Help to Buy initiative are available on the Revenue website.

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a Government-backed mortgage which is for first-time-buyers nationwide to purchase a new or second-hand home or to self-build. This scheme offers loans on competitive terms to those who are unable to secure a commercial bank loan. Full details of the scheme are available on the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan website.

House Purchase Schemes

Questions (383)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

383. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the extent to which he has studied a possible private subsidised sites scheme for potential allocation to suitably qualified applicants on means and income grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38691/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Towns and villages across Ireland are facing many challenges, in terms of decline in population, loss of services and community facilities. The Government has provided a strong national policy response through the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the Action Plan for Rural Development, which identify the need to reverse these trends and revitalise rural towns and villages by attracting new residents.

In this context, the Programme for Government (PFG) has committed in outline to the development of a Town Centre First (TCF) policy. With a view to giving effect to this commitment and the actions outlined in the PFG, a TCF inter-Departmental Group (IDG) has now been established to consider the regeneration of our towns and villages. Both my Department and the Department of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands are currently formulating this joint approach which will involve both the IDG and a wider Advisory Group of stakeholders, that I will chair, in advancing an initial scoping of the policy proposals. As part of this, measures and proposals to support more serviced sites closer to urban settlements will be examined, within the broader context of the issues effecting such places as already outlined. It is anticipated that any recommendations forthcoming from the TCF approach will be developed over the next six months.

The National Planning Framework (NPF) acknowledges that rural settlements are not suitable for a suburban or a high density approach to development and tailored design approaches are needed. The NPF also recognises that in rural Ireland many people seek to have an opportunity to build their own homes. Under National Policy Objective 18b my Department is committed to developing a programme with local authorities, public infrastructure agencies such as Irish Water and local communities for the provision of serviced sites for housing to attract people to build their own homes and live in small towns and villages.

Consideration will also need to be given to the expansion of towns and villages in a sustainable manner. Such development will be incremental, small scale, walkable (including to and from the town/village centre) and will occur on sites that have access adequate water supply and provision for disposal of domestic effluent. Such extensions should also be guided by responsive design principles so that they appear as a natural extensions to the town/village with a close visual relationship to the prevailing vernacular. My Department is addressing this in the context the development of ‘sustainable settlement guidance’, work on which will be progressing over the coming months.

Housing Data

Questions (384, 385)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

384. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the total number of new houses provided by the local authorities, by county, for prospective tenants in 2020 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38692/20]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

385. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the total number of new houses provided by the approved housing bodies, by county, for prospective tenants in 2020 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38693/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 384 and 385 together.

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.

The "Breakdown of Social Housing by Local Authority" tables will provide the Deputy with a breakdown of local authority and AHB Delivery for each local authority.

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.

Housing Data

Questions (386)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

386. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of planning permissions or alternative authority granted through local authorities for local authority housing in each of the past three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38694/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The granting, modification or refusal of local authorities ‘Own Development’ under Section 179 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, is a reserved function of the elected members. I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or the Board is or may be concerned.

My Department publishes comprehensive programme level statistics on a quarterly basis on all social housing delivery activity including the delivery of local authority housing. 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

The provision of local authority housing and securing the necessary planning consent is a matter for each local authority and consequently the information requested by the Deputy is not collected by my Department.

Housing Data

Questions (387, 388)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

387. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of housing loans offered to date under the Rebuilding Ireland scheme; the number of such loans drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38695/20]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

388. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loans currently on hand and awaiting approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38696/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 387 and 388 together.

My Department does not collect information on the number of Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans applications on hand and awaiting approval as requested by the Deputy.

However, my Department does publish information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns. Local authority approval means that an official letter of offer has been sent to a borrower (and therefore relates to a specific property and loan amount).

Information on the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan for 2019 and up to Q2 2020, including the number and value of mortgage approvals and drawdowns, as well as average loan amounts, are available on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity.

This information will be updated on a quarterly basis as additional data is compiled.

Information on the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan for 2018 is also available through this link and can be found under local authority loans approved and local authority loans paid, however these figures are not detailed by loan type.