Urban Development

Ceisteanna (226, 230, 232, 234)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

226. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the national regeneration and development agency will have its headquarters outside of Dublin; the process by which the location of the headquarters of this body will be selected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9113/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

230. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of officials and advisers that travelled from his Department to the launch of the NDP, NPF in County Sligo; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9151/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

232. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the €2 billion urban regeneration fund announced as part of the NDP additional to the €11.6 billion announced in the NDP for social housing is planned to fund housing projects or other regeneration activities; and if so, the list of potential activities to be funded with this allocation. [9173/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

234. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the timeframe for the establishment of the national regeneration and development agency; the estimated cost to establish and run this agency; the estimated staff complement of the agency; and the powers he will transfer to this agency. [9175/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 226, 230, 232 and 234 together.

The National Planning Framework sets out an ambitious high-level, national vision for Ireland for 2040, and provides the framework and principles to manage future population and economic growth over the next 20 years (catering for around 1 million extra people, 660,000 extra jobs and 550,000 extra homes).

The National Planning Framework and National Development Plan are also being followed by three Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies, being prepared by the Regional Assemblies over the course of 2018, which will link strategic planning and investment at the national level with the physical planning and local economic and community development functions of local authorities.

Project Ireland 2040 signals a significant policy shift towards securing more compact and sustainable urban and rural development which requires significantly more effective land management in key development areas.

Securing compact development will be substantially aided by a more effective approach to strategic land management and particularly so as regards land that is publicly owned and/or controlled. Accordingly, Project Ireland 2040 proposes the establishment of a National Regeneration and Development Agency to enhance overall management of the development potential of State lands to support implementation of the National Planning Framework. It is expected that the Agency will work with local authorities, public bodies and the business community, harnessing public lands as catalysts to stimulate regeneration and wider investment and to achieve compact, sustainable growth.

The primary focus of the Agency will therefore be about capacity building, creating a national centre of expertise to support local authorities and agencies in working with wider community and business stakeholders and aiding the coordination of complex regeneration projects.

The detailed arrangements in relation to the establishment, location of headquarters, staff costs and powers of the Agency have yet to be fully determined. However, at this point it is envisaged that the organisation would be a tightly focused one which would seek to work through the statutory powers of the stakeholders it is being established to assist, such as the local authorities who already have extensive powers to acquire, compulsorily if necessary, lands for development.

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department has been allocated responsibility for developing the €2 billion Urban Regeneration Fund which will support delivery of the NPF’s growth enablers for cities and other large urban centres of 10,000+ population and complementing the €1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund being targeted at smaller towns and villages below this population threshold.

While specific projects and activities under this Fund have not yet been identified, my Department will be engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and other relevant Departments in the short term in drawing up the outline of and criteria for calls for competitive bids for seed funding that will leverage other public and private investment, based on proposals that meet some or all of the criteria as set out in the NPF.

Twelve officials of my Department, including Advisors, attended the launch in Sligo for briefing and administrative/organisational purposes. Costs associated with their attendance, which have yet to be finalised given the recent timing of the event, will be determined in accordance with Travel and Subsistence rules as set out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Oireachtas Joint Committee Reports

Ceisteanna (227)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

227. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress in implementing the final report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services regarding ensuring equal funding for rural and urban dwellers in relation to domestic water services and in particular to domestic waste water services and private wells; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9116/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In late 2017, my Department conducted a review of group water scheme subsidies. The review involved discussions with the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, the representative body of the group water sector. Discussions concluded in December, when I approved revised subsidy levels. The new subsidy arrangements, endorsed by a special delegate conference of the Federation on 13 December 2017, came into effect on 1 January 2018.

The changes implement the recommendation contained in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services (JOCFFDWS), endorsed by both Houses of the Oireachtas in April 2017, that there be equity of treatment and equivalent financial support between households using public water services and those availing of private water services.

The revised subsidy levels are as follows:

1) For the annual subsidy towards the operation and maintenance costs of group water schemes providing a supply of water for domestic purposes (knows as ‘Subsidy A’):

The maximum subsidy per house in private group water schemes has increased from €140 per household to €231. An increased maximum subsidy of €281 per household is available for small schemes of less than 100 houses that are willing, in the interests of providing in the long-term a more sustainable water supply to their members, to progress towards rationalisation or amalgamation with other schemes.

The maximum subsidy per house for public group water schemes has increased from €70 per household to €115. These are schemes that supply their members with water that is provided by Irish Water.

The portion of costs than can be recouped by group water schemes has also increased. Typically up to 60% of costs have been covered by the subsidy payments. This has increased to 85%. There are also changes and simplifications to how these costs are assessed.

2) For the additional subsidy that is paid towards the costs of group water schemes that have long-term Operation and Maintenance Contracts (for example, as part of a Design Build Operate project) for the delivery of water (known as ‘Subsidy B)’:

There has been an increase in the level of volumetric costs incurred by group water schemes operating under these contracts that is recoupable, from 60% to 85%. This will allow for a greater portion of costs to be included within the subsidy payment.

In addition to the above, my Department is currently finalising proposals to increase the level of grant support for users of private wells, details of which I will be announcing shortly.

Separate to the initial review of group water scheme subsidy levels and also in fulfillment of the JOCFFDWS recommendations, I will shortly be establishing a working group to conduct a wider review of investment needs and rural water services. The review will focus on issues such as governance, supervision and monitoring of the sector, and capital investment requirements. It is anticipated that this group would engage with relevant stakeholders and will aim to complete its work by mid-2018.

Cognisance will be taken in this regard of any required measures to support the implementation of the finalised River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021, which I plan to finalise and publish early this year.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Review

Ceisteanna (228)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

228. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he plans to publish the outcome of the review of the tenant (incremental) purchase scheme; the reason for the delay in doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9120/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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.

In line with the commitment given in Rebuilding Ireland, a review of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase Scheme’s operation has been undertaken. The review has incorporated analysis of comprehensive data received from local authorities regarding the operation of the scheme during 2016 and a wide-ranging public consultation process which took place in 2017 and saw submissions received from individuals, elected representatives and organisations.

The review is now complete and a full report setting out findings and recommendations has been prepared. This required some further consultation with other Government Departments and for consideration to be given to possible implementation arrangements.  These issues are close to being finalised and I expect to be in a position to publish the outcome of the review shortly.

An Bord Pleanála

Question No. 230 answered with Question No. 226.

Ceisteanna (229)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

229. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will request An Bord Pleanála to inform local authorities and public representatives when major infrastructure and housing developments are directly submitted through a regular e-mail newsletter or section of the board's website. [9144/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The strategic infrastructure development (SID) provisions in the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2017 (the Regulations), whereby planning applications are made directly to An Bord Pleanála (the Board), provide for the necessary public notification, site notice and public consultation arrangements in respect of such planning applications, broadly similar to the arrangements in place in respect of planning applications for smaller development proposals.

Specifically, the SID provisions ensure the notification of the relevant planning authority at both pre-application and application stages of the process. In addition, as part of the application stage, the relevant planning authority must prepare a report setting out the authority’s views of the proposed development, and elected members of the authority may attach recommendations to the report of the authority, prior to it being submitted to the Board.

The new procedures relating to applications for strategic housing developments (SHD) are similar to the provisions for SID, including the provisions relating to public notification, site notice and public consultation of any such proposals. The SHD procedures also ensure close involvement by the relevant planning authorities throughout the process, including - like the SID procedures - the requirement at application stage for the planning authority to submit a report on the proposed development to the Board. The Act further provides that at the application stage, the elected members of the relevant Local Area Committee or the local municipal district are also notified of an application for a proposed SHD development.

Additionally the regulations provide for a weekly list of applications received and applications determined or otherwise disposed of by the Board in relation to SID and SHD cases. These weekly lists are available on the Board's website at http://www.pleanala.ie/.

I am satisfied that there are appropriate notification procedures in place to ensure that planning authorities, public representatives and the wider public are informed of proposed SID and SHD planning applications.

Question No. 230 answered with Question No. 226.

Regeneration Projects Expenditure

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 226.

Ceisteanna (231)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

231. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the spend on urban regeneration in each year since 2011; and the amount allocated for 2018, in tabular form. [9172/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Spending specific and exclusive to an “urban regeneration” heading did not take place in my Department during the years in question. However, I have set out below the expenditure incurred under the National Regeneration Programme which operates under my Department’s Social Housing Capital Investment Programme.

My Department currently supports a programme of large-scale regeneration projects in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and smaller projects in Tralee, Sligo and Dundalk under this National Regeneration Programme. These projects seek to address the causes of disadvantage in these communities through a holistic programme of physical, social and economic regeneration. Projects being funded under the Programme target the country’s most disadvantaged communities, including those defined by the most extreme social exclusion, unemployment and anti-social behaviour. €61 million in Exchequer funding is being provided under this programme in 2018.

The expenditure on the National Regeneration Programme over the period 2011-2017 is set out in the table below

2011 - €m

2012 - €m

2013 - €m

2014 - €m

2015 - €m

2016 - €m

2017 - €m

118.19

100.62

69.43

46.88

48.80

50.05

65.19

In terms of urban regeneration specifically, and as announced in Budget 2018, a programme of €50 million in Exchequer funding, supplemented by an additional minimum 50% contribution from local authorities, is being introduced to support projects and initiatives to regenerate and revitalise depopulated urban areas and facilitate more compact urban growth. An initial €10 million is being made available in 2018 to get the programme underway. A key aim will be to maximise linkages with other programmes designed to bring vacant properties back into use.

In terms of the wider context, expenditure on urban regeneration was traditionally made through the Regional Operational Programmes, with the Urban and Village Renewal Measures involving a total planned EU and Exchequer co-financed expenditure of €154 million from 2000-2006. Budgetary constraints arising from the downturn in the economy caused the subsequent programme (2007-2013) to be deferred.

In the current programme covering the period 2014-2020, a Designated Urban Centre Grant Scheme is providing for investments in sustainable urban development, co-funded by the EU Regional Development Fund (with a contribution of €40 million) and the local authorities, in the order of €128 million over the 7-year period. This programme is supporting the delivery of 24 sustainable urban capital works projects around Ireland, which are expected to be completed by 2019, for the lasting benefit of local communities and improved quality of urban living.

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department has been allocated responsibility for developing the €2 billion urban regeneration fund which will support delivery of the National Planning Framework's (NPF) growth enablers for cities and other large urban centres. Specific projects/activities under the fund have not yet been identified, and Departments and local authorities will be invited to make joint competitive bids for seed funding that will leverage other public and private investment, based on proposals that meet some or all of the criteria as set out in the NPF.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 226.

Local Authority Housing Data

Question No. 234 answered with Question No. 226.

Ceisteanna (233)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

233. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the type of social housing units that the NDP plans to deliver out to 2027, that is, the number of the 112,000 units that will be owned by local authorities, approved housing bodies, leased from the private sector and short term RAS or HAP tenancies respectively. [9174/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As reflected in the National Development Plan 2018 - 2017, a total of 112,000 social housing homes will be delivered over the next decade, through a range of mechanisms including build, long term leasing and acquisitions.

In addition to the social housing homes already delivered under Rebuilding Ireland, 40,000 further social housing homes will be delivered between 2018 and 2021, with the remaining 72,000 social housing homes being delivered between 2022 and 2027, at a rate of 12,000 homes per annum. In relation to the blend of social housing delivery between 2018 and 2021, details of this blend can be accessed on my Department's website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-progress-vs-targets-2016-2021/.

In relation to the 72,000 social housing homes that will be delivered between 2022 and 2027, the precise delivery blend for each year will be finalised at a later stage.

It should be noted that the delivery of the 112,000 social housing homes over the next decade does not include housing supports that will be provided to households under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme or the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

Question No. 234 answered with Question No. 226.

EU Regulations

Ceisteanna (235)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

235. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated impact a High Court ruling of 8 February 2018 (details supplied) will have on the harvesting of peat here; his plans to introduce the promised amending legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9194/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department is currently progressing draft European Union (Licensing of Large-Scale Extraction of Peat) Regulations that will establish a revised regulatory regime in respect of large-scale peat extraction. Under the draft Regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency will be required to carry out an environmental impact assessment as part of its examination of applications for a licence for peat extraction on sites of 30 hectares or more, and such activity will be exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission.

The draft regulations have been the subject of focused stakeholder input from relevant Government Departments and State bodies, industry representatives and environmental groups. Consultations are continuing with the Environmental Protection Agency with a view to finalising the draft Regulations for signature as soon as possible.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the impact on the harvesting of peat arising from the High Court ruling to which the Question refers given that neither I, as Minister, nor the State was a party to the case concerned and the period for appealing the ruling has not yet expired.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Ceisteanna (236)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

236. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to implement changes to the three year multiannual rural water programme which would see two programmes approved per local authority area as was previously the case (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9196/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to group sewerage schemes.

My Department's Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2016-2018 includes funding of group sewerage schemes, through Measure 4(d) where clustering of households on individual septic tanks is not a viable option, particularly from an environmental perspective.

Local authorities were invited in January 2016 to submit bids under the programme. The invitation envisaged no more than two demonstration group sewerage schemes being brought forward under the measure in any one year of the programme. The demonstrations will allow my Department, over the course of the programme, to determine the appropriate enduring funding levels and relationship with the current grant scheme.

An Expert Panel was convened by my Department to examine the 2016 bids from local authorities for projects under a number of the programme's measures, including 4(d) and to make recommendations on funding. The Panel recommended a priority list of demonstration schemes under this measure to my Department, which accepted the recommendations in full when approving the rural water allocation for 2016.

As only two demonstration projects can be advanced in any given year and a priority list of new demonstration group sewerage schemes has already been identified for the duration of the programme, there is currently no scope for any additional schemes.

A copy of the Expert Panel's report and consideration of all proposals under the programme is available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-services/rural-water-programme/group-water-schemes-and-rural-water-issues.

My Department will shortly initiate a short, focused review of the wider investment needs relating to rural water services, including the overall approach to funding rural water issues. The review will focus on governance, supervision and monitoring of the sector and the capital investment requirements. It is anticipated that the review group will engage with relevant stakeholders and will aim to complete its work by mid 2018. The process will inform preparations for a new multi-annual programme for the period 2019-2021.

Local Authority Funding

Ceisteanna (237)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

237. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if budgetary applications by local authorities (details supplied) will be expedited in order that services can be planned for 2018. [9207/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Budget 2018 provides for a national Exchequer allocation of €116 million for homeless services, which is an additional €18 million, or 18%, on the Budget 2017 provision.

The purposes for which housing authorities may incur expenditure in addressing homelessness are prescribed in section 10 of the Housing Act 1988. My Department may recoup housing authorities up to 90% of payments reasonably made. Under funding arrangements that are in place between my Department and housing authorities, exchequer funding is provided on a regional basis, whereby payments are made to a designated lead-authority which is responsible for the disbursement of this exchequer funding, within the region. Housing authorities are currently in the process of submitting estimated 2018 expenditure programmes, which my Department will consider before notifying lead-authorities of delegated regional allocations.

As in previous years, the 2018 delegated regional funding allocations will be made primarily in respect of scheduled services, i.e. those where a service level agreement is in place between the authority and the service provider. Given the demand-led nature of homelessness and the increased rates of homeless presentation in recent times, it is recognised that it is not possible for authorities to be fully accurate in relation to forecast expenditure and additional expenditure may also arise outside of the provisions of the delegated funding allocations. Accordingly, this year, as in previous years, my Department has provided reassurance that all expenditure reasonably incurred will be considered for recoupment.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (238)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

238. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of officials and advisers that travelled from her Department to the launch of the NDP, NPF in County Sligo; the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9157/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Government launched Project Ireland 2040, comprised of the National Planning Framework to 2040 and the National Development Plan 2018 - 2027 in Sligo on 16 February, following a meeting of the Government.  The launch was also attended by my Special Adviser and the Assistant Secretary for Corporate Affairs from my Department.

The only costs arising for my Department in connection with its participation in these events will be standard travel and subsistence costs.  These will be submitted for payment and processed in due course in accordance with procedures set out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.