Planning and Development (Amendment) (First-Time Buyers) Bill 2021: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide for a specific percentage of lands in a private development to be limited for purchase by first-time buyers and to provide for related matters.

I was disappointed not to be able to avail of my scheduled spot during Questions on Promised Legislation. I remind Deputies that when they resist the efforts of the Ceann Comhairle, they deprive others of slots that have been allocated.

The Bill was first brought to the House in 2019 by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, who was then my party's spokesperson on housing in opposition. In December 2015, 13 couples approached me because they had been gazumped by the bulk purchase of their housing estate. They were heartbroken. The only solace to the community was that the bulk purchase had been made by an approved housing body, AHB. It was no comfort to those 13 couples, but at least we knew that the homes would go to those on the housing waiting lists. Increasingly over recent months, not only have AHBs been purchasing homes that might otherwise have come to the market but invealso stors have been doing it. Whatever was the reasoning or logic for the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government incentivising real estate investment trusts, REITs, I do not think anybody ever intended that standard family homes would be bulk purchased in that way.

The Bill, which I am reintroducing to the House, intends to give local authorities power, which the House does not often do, to reserve up to 30% of a new development for first-time buyers. I am conscious that since the submission of the Bill to the Bills Office, the Government has announced its intention to bring forward welcome changes in this area. In fact, in some cases they go beyond the measures the Minister and I have included in the Bill. The idea of expanding that 30% provision from just first-time buyers to include owner-occupiers will cover people who might be trading up from, say, a one-bedroom apartment now that they have a growing family. I have represented Dublin 9 and 11 for the best part of ten years and I know how important social mix is. It is important that we ensure there are both mixed income and mixed tenure in new developments because if we do not, it can have a detrimental impact on the people who end up living in those developments and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Opposition to housing can often be based on NIMBYism, but it can also be based on a desire for good planning and not to repeat the mistakes of the past. I welcome the Government's announcement that it intends to give local authorities powers to ensure not only that there are mixed tenure and mixed income through this measure but also that the State will get back into the business of providing housing. I refer to the ideas of building cost-rental housing for those who do not qualify for social housing, of building council-led affordable housing on council land, of financial support being provided in the short term while all of that comes on stream, and of reversing the reduction in the Part 5 provision introduced by the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government in 2013.

The Bill is part of a series of measures the Government is taking to restore power to local authorities and give them the tools to develop new housing. It will not be housing for housing's sake but rather housing that has a good mix and good planning principles. The Bill shares much of what the Minister has said he will introduce in the Affordable Housing Bill, and I look forward to working with him to include some of the provisions of the Bill before us in that Bill, which will be debated in both committee and plenary session of the House in the coming weeks. The toolbox is being given to every local authority to allow it to start building. Every councillor should challenge his or her local authority to start building again and to ensure the provisions in this Bill, the Affordable Housing Bill or the Land Development Agency Bill will start to be implemented on the ground in order that people can once again know that the State is back in the business of housing, and that where private development is facilitated, first-time buyers and owner-occupiers will not have to compete with one hand behind their backs.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.