Thursday, 5 April 2007

Ceisteanna (28, 29, 30)

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

23 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of social inclusion units in local authorities and the locations of same; and the dates on which he will extend the units to half of all county and city councils by the end of 2008 in line with a commitment in Towards 2016. [13465/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

A total of eight local authority social inclusion units have been established to date, with assistance from my Department. These units are located in the following local authorities:

Cork City Council

Dublin City Council

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

Limerick City Council

Louth County Council

South Dublin County Council

Waterford City Council

Wicklow County Council

Arrangements are currently being put in place with a view to having such units extended to half of all county and city councils by the end of 2008, in line with the commitment in Towards 2016.

Liam Twomey

Ceist:

24 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will change Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to include within its remit any proposal to build five or more housing units regardless of the size of the site thus removing any existing exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13449/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane McEntee

Ceist:

86 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will change Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to include within its remit any development of five or more houses which are proposed for locations which are not zoned for housing and for which permission is being granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13450/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I propose to take Questions Nos. 24 and 86 together.

Under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2006, each local authority is required to prepare a housing strategy identifying the full range of housing needs in the authority's area and is obliged to zone sufficient land to meet the needs identified. The housing strategy also provides the basis for determining the percentage, up to 20%, of land zoned for residential development or for a mix of residential and other uses that may be reserved for social and affordable housing purposes under Part V.

Part V establishes a firm legal basis through which a proportion of the benefit accruing from both the zoning and granting of planning permission can be captured to support the achievement of the desirable public policy objective of delivering social and affordable housing. It balances the objective of focusing delivery with the requirement that needs in this regard are clearly identified in the housing strategy and that delivery takes place in a plan-led manner through each local authority fulfilling its statutory obligation to zone sufficient land to meet the identified requirements.

The overall approach underpinning Part V has been considered by the Supreme Court and found to be Constitutional. I am satisfied that the balanced approach involved provides a robust basis for the effective operation of Part V, as evidenced by the increasing levels of delivery now being achieved. Accordingly, I have no proposals to amend the legislation to apply Part V to unzoned land.

In relation to the minimum size threshold for sites to which Part V applies, the initial threshold of 0.2 hectares was reduced to 0.1 hectares under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2002. This change was made in order to take account of the potential for increased housing delivery on smaller sites arising from the implementation of policies in relation to increased residential densities. I am not aware of any significant loss of delivery under Part V due to a widespread incidence of housing developments of 5 or more units being achieved on sites of less than 0.1 hectares. Accordingly, I have no proposals to amend the legislation in this regard, but will keep its operation under review.