Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (65)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

65. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will review the income limits for eligibility for inclusion on the social housing waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9535/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for eligibility for social housing support for each local authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy, published by my Department.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band are based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. The limits also reflect a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn and thereby promote sustainable communities.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports has commenced, with the detailed statistical work underpinning the review to be carried out by the Housing Agency.  I expect the results of this review to be available for publication later this year.

Rural Resettlement Scheme

Ceisteanna (66)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

66. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to establish a rural resettlement scheme to stem outward migration from rural areas. [8722/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Government's Action Plan for Rural Development: Realising our Potential, has a clear objective of working across Government Departments to deliver a co-ordinated group of strategies and actions to ensure the success of vibrant rural communities across Ireland.

My Department works closely with the Department of Rural and Community Development on rural housing issues. In relation to social housing, it is already possible for households to move and relocate between local authority areas, including relocating from an urban to a rural location, under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme.

My Department is also currently examining additional ways to facilitate households, who are qualified for social housing, and who may wish to relocate to rural areas.

Repair and Leasing Scheme

Ceisteanna (67)

John Curran

Ceist:

67. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to make changes to the repair and leasing scheme to secure greater a number of properties across the four Dublin local authorities in which the demand and need for housing is greatest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9690/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) was initially piloted in Carlow and Waterford and the pilot has been rolled out nationally since 23 February 2017. The scheme is one of a suite of measures available to local authorities to bring vacant properties back into use. Since the national roll out, my Department has been working intensively with local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to develop and implement the scheme. There have been a number of national and local press advertising initiatives, as well as targeted online promotion, in an effort to ensure that property owners who can benefit from the scheme are aware of the benefits.

I can confirm that at the end of 2017, applications in respect of a total of 820 houses had been received by local authorities nationwide. A total of 41 applications have been received across the four Dublin local authorities, with 26 of these properties being deemed suitable for social housing, and 7 unsuitable, following an initial evaluation. A Lease Agreement has been signed in respect of 1 property, which has now been tenanted.  A detailed breakdown of the RLS data up to end Q4 2017 is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

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

The nature of the RLS means that the period leading up to the signing of contracts – sourcing and inspecting the properties, and negotiation with owners - is the slowest part of the process. All local authorities are active in sourcing and identifying potential properties and it is expected that significant numbers of contracts will be entered into once that process is complete. Once contracts are signed, delivery is estimated at between 2 and 6 months, a fraction of the time involved for a capital acquisition or build project.

Feedback from local authorities indicates that, in many cases, properties requiring extensive repair work, and therefore not suitable for the RLS, have been secured under the Buy and Renew Scheme which facilitates local authorities or AHBs to purchase vacant properties for social housing use. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that the levels of vacancy recorded as part of Census 2016 have significantly reduced in the interim, particularly in urban areas like Dublin where many previously vacant homes have since been occupied.

It is clear from end 2017 output, that RLS has not yet delivered the level of new social housing homes envisaged. I have reviewed the operation of the scheme, as part of the review of Rebuilding Ireland, and I have concluded that the scheme has significant potential but there are areas where it can be improved to make it more attractive and effective. At the Housing Summit held on 22 January 2018, local authority Chief Executives were advised that, from 1 February 2018, a number of key changes were being made to the scheme. These include:

- a reduction in the minimum lease term required from 10 to 5 years;

- increasing the proportion of market rent available to property owners where they take on more responsibilities under the tenancy, meaning that up to 92% of market rent will be available; and

- provision of additional funding for property owners, over and above the current €40,000 limit, where the dwelling is a bedsit type dwelling being brought into compliance with the Standards for Rented Houses Regulations and made available for social housing.

I am making €32 million available for the scheme in 2018 and I expect local authorities and AHBs to continue to implement the scheme locally and to achieve the target of 800 new properties this year.

Private Rented Accommodation

Ceisteanna (68, 70, 77)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

68. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he pans to bring forward regulations for the short-term letting sector. [9684/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

70. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has spoken to the Minister for Finance regarding the negative effects a company's (details supplied) rentals are having on the private rental market; and his plans to adopt measures imposed in other EU cities that have tackled a similar problem. [9711/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

77. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the working group review of short term lettings regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9485/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68, 70 and 77 together.

Under Action 18 of the Strategy for the Rental Sector, my Department established a Working Group in June 2017, with representatives of all major public stakeholders with a policy interest in short-term lettings, including from the Department of Finance, to develop guidance in relation to planning applications, changes of use relating to short-term lettings and to examine the need for new regulatory arrangements.   

The proposals under consideration by the Working Group, which has met on 6 occasions to date, are aimed at facilitating short-term letting of accommodation within permanent residences, known as home-sharing, while protecting existing stock of residential property in areas of high demand, safeguarding neighbourhood amenity and consumer protection, and generating revenue to address any negative externalities of short-term letting.

The Working Group is now working on proposals for an appropriate comprehensive regulatory approach for short-term tourism-related lettings, as well as identification of amendments to legislation as may be necessary to give effect to such regulation.

The Group oversaw the preparation of guidance for local authorities to assist them when considering planning applications relating to short-term lettings. My Department issued a circular in this context to all local authorities in October 2017, a copy of which is available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/circular_pl10_aph3_2017.pdf.

The guidance circular is an immediate measure intended to ensure that existing planning regulations are adhered to and that they are used appropriately to facilitate genuine home-sharing and to protect the supply of rental accommodation and housing stock.  It provides guidance to planning authorities, where an application for planning permission has been made for the purpose of short-term letting.

There is a specific exemption in article 10(4) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 for, within certain limitations or restrictions, development consisting of the use of a house for overnight guest accommodation which, therefore, does not require planning permission. This exemption is typically or traditionally relied on in the context of provision of B&B type accommodation.  The circular does not provide guidance for planning decisions for houses that are covered by this exemption.

However, the term “house” does not, for the purposes of article 10(4), include a building designed for use or used as 2 or more dwellings or a flat, an apartment or other dwelling within such a building.  Providing overnight guest accommodation in such dwellings is therefore  specifically excluded from this exemption and may constitute a material change of use and, if it does, such use requires planning permission.

In this context, the circular provides guidance to LAs when considering applications for planning permission for a material change of use to allow short-term letting in such dwellings and also in houses that are not covered by this exemption.

This guidance is a first step, and is not intended to resolve all the issues related to short-term letting.  It does not constitute an alteration to the existing planning regulations, which are unchanged by the guidance circular.  Indeed, any changes to existing regulations relating to the exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission are subject to approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas, as set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.

The broader licensing and regulatory approach, on which the Working Group is developing proposals, will provide the comprehensive framework to do this.  The draft report of the Working Group is currently being finalised and I will consider its recommendations when I receive it, before initiating a targeted public consultation on the proposals.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 68.

Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 54.

Ceisteanna (69)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

69. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the stages a local authority must go through when seeking departmental approval for a new housing scheme; his views on whether this is efficient ; the longest and shortest timeframe, respectively, it has taken to go through all stages; and the reason for the variance. [9710/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Social housing projects funded by my Department, like all publicly-funded construction projects, must comply with the Government’s Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF), the objectives of which are to ensure greater cost certainty, better value for money and financial accountability. While there are nine points of review within the CWMF, my Department has combined these to just four for capital-funded social housing construction projects.

My Department's approvals themselves represent a small minority only of the time taken in advancing a construction project onto site. The approach that is followed means that local authorities forward design proposals and costings to my Department sequentially, as the local authorities advance the projects through their own planning work.

However, it is important that we continuously strive for efficiency in the delivery of social housing. Accordingly a review was undertaken during 2017 of the processes and procedures in place for the approval of such construction projects.  As part of this, a joint working group of the County and City Management Association and my Department has agreed an overall target programme of 59 weeks for progressing a typical social housing construction project from initial capital appraisal submission by the local authority (Stage 1), to construction contract award. The group has also produced new guidelines for local authorities on advancing such projects.  Revisions have also been made to the single-stage approval process for social housing construction projects under €2m to increase its use, while projects using the framework for rapid delivery housing also avail of a streamlined approval process.

These improvements, in particular the target programme of 59 weeks for progressing typical social housing construction projects, are now being implemented but in respect of previous projects, as seen in the quarterly Social Housing Construction Status Reports now being published (see http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/quarter-3-social-housing-construction-status-report/), the equivalent time for a range of typical projects was from 61 to 70 weeks, averaging at 65 weeks.  My Department remains committed to the accelerated delivery of all social housing projects and will work with all local authorities and approved housing bodies to ensure that quality and value for money projects are delivered efficiently and effectively.

Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 68.
Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 54.

National Planning Framework

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 36.

Ceisteanna (72, 716)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

72. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the changes made to the draft national planning framework were proofed against the supporting analysis and environmental report that informed the draft plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9713/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

716. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the strategic environment assessment statement for the national planning framework will be published; and the reason it was not ready for publication with the framework. [9487/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 and 716 together.

The National Planning Framework (NPF) as published by Government is underpinned and was informed by a comprehensive analytical, public participation and environmental assessment-based approach.

The evidence base underpinning the NPF and its finalisation after the publication of the consultation draft includes the ESRI Research study, titled ‘Prospects for Irish Regions and Counties: Scenarios and Implications', which is available on the ESRI's website at the following link: http://www.esri.ie/publications/prospects-for-irish-regions-and-counties-scenarios-and-implications/.

Finalisation of the NPF was also necessarily informed by the extensive public consultation process conducted at draft stage, which included over 1,000 submissions, formal engagements with the Oireachtas and interaction with key stakeholders. Crucially, the NPF was also informed by a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), with the SEA statement including a screening of changes made between the publication of the public consultation draft and the final Framework as published by the Government. These changes reflected the Government's concern that the final version of the document should address key points that had been raised through the very valuable public consultation process that had taken place.

The SEA statement and other supporting documents will be published as soon as practicable, following the completion of presentational and document design work. Copies of relevant documents will be made available on the Project Ireland 2040 website, at www.gov.ie/en/project-ireland-2040, and also on the NPF website, www.npf.ie.

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 36.

Housing Data

Ceisteanna (74)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

74. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses available at prices below €280,000 across the State on sites benefiting from LIHAF. [9685/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

34 projects, at a total cost of €226 million, received preliminary approval for funding in March 2017 under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).  Local authorities were allowed to proceed to design phase on all of these projects, pending final approval and sign-off of a grant agreement between my Department and Local Authorities.

To date, I have given final approval for 30 of the 34 infrastructure projects which will activate supply of some 20,000 housing units, and grant agreements in respect of those projects have been signed.  The balance of the projects are being finalised or have been moved for consideration under LIHAF 2 later in 2018.

Within the 20,000 units being advanced, it is expected that increased numbers of social housing over and above the 10% under Part V will be provided. Subject to the planning process and the eventual development applications made, it is estimated that approximately 3,300 of the 20,000 new homes will be for social housing purposes, made up of Part V units and additional social housing which will be provided on the 13 State-owned sites benefiting from the LIHAF-funded enabling infrastructure.  On most of these publicly-owned sites, additional affordable housing will also be provided for sale or for rent.  

As required under the scheme criteria and conditions, a key focus has been to ensure that there is a proportionate dividend for the State’s investment in infrastructure, as demonstrated by either provision of housing at scale at certain prices, a proportionate reduction in house prices across all of the homes being facilitated or a specified number of homes which will benefit from a larger price reduction. I intend to publish summary details on all the approved and advancing projects, once final positions regarding the remaining projects have been reached.

It is not possible to provide an exact number of houses that will be available at prices below €280,000 as it will depend on the final mix of house sizes on each site (which information will not be available until planning permission is approved for each site) and it will also depend on the market price at time of sale. 

However, based on the information provided by the local authorities in their local agreements and analysis of current house prices in the areas concerned, and recognising the commercial sensitivity around some of the details in the agreements reached, it is expected that at least a third of the projects are likely to have three-bed homes for sale for €280,000 or less.  It is also expected that many of the other projects, including within the Dublin area, will have one- and two-bed homes for sale around or under this price point. The majority of the projects will also have some starter homes available for between €280,000 and €320,000.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (75)

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

75. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the housing PPPs in view of the fact that five schemes were to be rolled out nationally and to date none have commenced; the commencement date of these PPPs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9701/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Social Housing PPP Programme involves an investment with a capital value of €300 million, with the aim of delivering 1,500 social housing homes in total, via three bundles.

The first bundle, comprising a total of six PPP sites, will provide over 500 homes in the Greater Dublin Area. Two of the sites are located in the Dublin City Council area with one each in the County Council areas of South Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Louth. Part 8 planning permission has been granted by the relevant local authorities for all six sites. The contract notice commencing the PPP tender competition was issued in May 2017. Following prequalification assessments, the following three candidates were shortlisted to proceed to tender in October 2017:

- BAM PPP PGGM Cooperatie U.A;

- Comhar;

- Torc Housing Partnership.

The full tender documents were issued to the tenderers in December 2017 and the dialogue period is presently on-going. Tenders for Bundle 1 are due to be submitted in June 2018.

The second bundle, comprising eight PPP sites, will provide over 450 new homes. Three of the sites are located in County Cork, with one in each in the cities of Galway and Waterford and the counties of Clare, Kildare and Roscommon. The social housing is being developed at all these sites in co-operation with the relevant local authorities. The Part 8 planning permission process is currently in progress for these sites.

The identification and selection of sites for the third project bundle is at a preliminary stage.

It is expected that construction on the first bundle of sites will commence later this year, with units becoming available towards the end of 2019.

Housing Provision

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 68.

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 47.

Question No. 79 answered with Question No. 44.

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 41.

Ceisteanna (76, 721)

James Browne

Ceist:

76. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to address the shortage of housing in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9311/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

721. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if each capital application to his Department from projects in County Wexford will be provided; the type and extent of each application; the status of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9412/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 721 together.

Wexford, like many other local authorities around the country, has experienced a low level of house construction activity, both public and private, over the last number of years. However, Rebuilding Ireland is focused on accelerating delivery of housing across all tenures and a comprehensive programme of action is well underway, which will see investment of more than €6 billion to deliver 50,000 social housing homes nationally, through build, refurbishment, acquisitions and leasing, over the period to 2021. With the increased national targets and additional funding under Rebuilding Ireland, targets for 2018 to 2021 are now being finalised with local authorities. 

In addition to the provision of adequate funding, the availability of suitable lands for development is key to ensuring the delivery of sufficient housing supply.  All local authorities have been requested to prepare Strategic Development and Management Plans for residential lands in their ownership to ensure they are brought forward for development at the earliest opportunity. The Plans for Wexford will be reviewed by my Department once received. 

As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department is in receipt of a large volume of applications for funding across a wide range of capital and current related housing programmes for all local authorities, including Wexford County Council. Therefore, my Department is not in a position to provide details of all applications received from the Council.

In relation to applications made, my Department has approved a range of projects for Wexford County Council and those in the pipeline can be viewed in the latest status report for social housing construction projects, as at end Q3 2017, which is available on my Department's website at the following weblink: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/rebuilding-ireland/minister-murphy-announces-additional-eu100m-housing-and-homelessness-2017. 

The Q3 2017 report details 772 schemes recently completed, on site, or undergoing planning, design or procurement, which will deliver some 12,300 homes across all local authorities. 

The report shows a significant level of activity being undertaken by Wexford County Council, in conjunction with Approved Housing Bodies, across 38 projects delivering in the region of 390 homes. In addition, the Council is undertaking feasibility work on  a number of further  projects, with the potential to deliver almost 180 additional homes.

In relation to full year outputs for 2017, provisional details on the number of social housing homes delivered across the country, were published on 15 January 2018. A breakdown of these homes, in terms of build, refurbishment, acquisitions and leasing, across all local authority areas, including Wexford, will be made available shortly, following completion of the necessary validation process.

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 68.
Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 47.
Question No. 79 answered with Question No. 44.
Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 41.

Vacant Sites Levy

Ceisteanna (81, 90)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

81. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he or officials in his Department have been lobbied by vested interests in the past eight months, in relation the introduction of a possible land tax; if his attention has been drawn to comments made by the managing director of a company (detail supplied); if his Department has conducted research on the way in which other European countries deal with the issue of land banking and hoarding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9680/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

90. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to initiate discussions with the Minister for Finance to amend the vacant site levy, particularly in relation to the reduced levy rates 0.75% and 1.5% that are applied if the outstanding loans are between 75% and 100%, 50% and 75% of market value; their further plans to amend the zero rate of levy that applies if the outstanding amount of the site loan is greater than the market value of the vacant site on the date of its determination respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9679/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 90 together.

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 introduced a new measure, the vacant site levy, which is aimed at incentivising the development of vacant, under-utilised sites in urban areas.  Under the 2015 Act, planning authorities are required to establish a register of vacant sites in their functional areas, beginning on 1 January 2017, and  to issue notices to owners of vacant sites by 1 June 2018 in respect of vacant sites listed on their respective registers on 1 January 2018, indicating that the levy will apply to those sites on 1 January 2019. 

The primary purpose of the levy is to act as an incentive for the bringing forward of vacant under-used sites for development, for residential or regeneration purposes.  I would hope that as many vacant sites as possible on the local authority registers will be developed for these purposes, thereby avoiding liability to the levy.

Under the provisions of the Act, planning authorities are empowered to apply an annual vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of relevant vacant sites where a site:

- exceeds 0.05 hectares in area,

- was, in the planning authority’s opinion, vacant or idle in the preceding year, and

- is in an area identified by the planning authority in its development plan or local area plan for residential or regeneration development.

Reduced or zero rates of levy may apply in specific circumstances in order to help alleviate the financial burden faced by owners of vacant sites which are subject to a site loan and where the loan is greater than the market value of the site (i.e. a negative equity situation), and also where the site loan is greater than 50% of the market value of the site.

All levies due on an individual site will remain a charge on the land concerned until all outstanding levies due are paid. Accordingly, under the vacant site levy provisions, there will be a cumulative effect associated with not activating a site for development purposes for each year that a site remains vacant or idle.

As announced in Budget 2018, it is proposed to increase the rate of levy from 3% to 7% of the market valuation of relevant sites with effect from January 2020 in respect of sites included on the local vacant site registers in 2019. Legislative provision for this increase along with amendments to other relevant provisions will be tabled by way of Seanad amendments to the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016, which is presently at Seanad Committee Stage. These amendments are currently being drafted by my Department in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General.

With regard to addressing the issue of the hoarding of residentially zoned land, a number of amendments to the provisions relating to the extension of duration of planning permissions have also been tabled in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016. The amendments proposed are collectively aimed at tightening up the provisions in relation to the extension of duration of planning permissions and ensuring that extensions of duration, without commencing substantial development, will no longer be facilitated.

Following a commitment given in Budget 2015, a public consultation was conducted by the Department of Finance on the issue of unused zoned and serviced land with a view to examining what taxation measures might be taken to penalise land owners who do not develop such land.  On considering the outcome of the public consultation and further to the enactment of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 which introduced the vacant site levy, the Department of Finance determined that no new tax intended to encourage the development of residentially zoned and serviced land - separate to the vacant site levy - would be introduced at that time.

In relation to a land tax, in the 2012 Report of the Inter-departmental Group on the Design of a Local Property Tax (the "Thornhill Group"), the basis of assessment for the Local Property Tax (LPT) was comprehensively examined, including both the "taxable value of the property" option and a site value tax (SVT). The report favoured the use of market value of residential properties as the basis of assessment and this recommendation was accepted by the Government.

The Thornhill Group concluded that the arguments for SVT were outweighed by the likely difficulties in ensuring acceptance by taxpayers, i.e. arriving at values that were evidence based, understandable and acceptable to the public in addition to complexities and uncertainties in the valuation effort necessary to put an SVT in place. In contrast, the Group considered that, under a market value approach applied to housing, the market value of a residential property would be related to the characteristics of the building itself, the site on which it was located and the characteristics and amenities of the neighbourhood. There would be a relationship between the market value of a house and benefits to the owners in terms of enjoyment of the amenity value of the properties.

Subsequently, at the request of the Minister for Finance, the operation of the LPT was reviewed in 2015 by Dr. Thornhill. A number of submissions to the review favoured changing the basis of determination of LPT liabilities to site value, floor area or variations thereof. Dr. Thornhill considered these but remained of the view that market value is the most appropriate and equitable basis on which to determine LPT liabilities.

Tax issues are a matter for the Minister for Finance and neither I nor my Department have been lobbied in relation to the possible introduction of a land tax.

Student Accommodation

Ceisteanna (82)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

82. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of student accommodation units built or planned in the Dublin 1, 3 and 7 areas since 2014 up until Q4 2017, in tabular form. [9712/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

To support and drive increased student accommodation delivery, my Department has implemented several measures under the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, including fast-tracking planning applications directly to An Bord Pleanála for student accommodation projects of 200 or more bed spaces, and facilitating low-cost funding availability from the Housing Finance Agency to the higher education institutes specifically for student accommodation projects. Applications for more than 1,400 student bed spaces are before An Bord Pleanála at present, with 2,178 having recently been granted permission at UCD Belfield.    

Furthermore, in fulfilment of Action 4.7 of the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a national student accommodation strategy was developed and launched in July by my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills.  Since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland in July 2016, an additional 2,687 purpose-built student beds have become available to the market nationally; nearly 4,500 bed spaces are under construction at present; and a further 8,300+ bed spaces have planning permission but as yet have not had construction commenced. 

Detailed information in relation to projects in particular parts of Dublin City is not held in my Department but may be available from Dublin City Council.

EU Directives

Ceisteanna (83)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

83. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the ongoing EU Commission and EU Court of Justice legal action against the State for breaches of the urban waste water treatment directive. [9686/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Council Directive 91/271/EEC) mandates waste water collection and treatment requirements for urban agglomerations.  Member States had until the end of 2000 to ensure appropriate treatment for large agglomerations (population equivalent of more than 15,000) and until the end of 2005 for agglomerations of population equivalent greater than 2,000 discharging to freshwaters and estuaries. The Commission considers that Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations under a number of articles of the Directive.

A Letter of Formal Notice (LFN), issued in October 2013, began the formal infringement procedure. The Commission updated the LFN in September 2015 and Ireland responded in January 2016. A Reasoned Opinion was issued in September 2016.

The Commission decided to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU in February 2017 and the case was formally lodged with the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 18 July 2017.

The Chief State Solicitor’s Office formally lodged Ireland’s Defence with the CJEU on 27 October 2017. The written procedure in this case closed on 5 February 2018 and the Decision of the Court is awaited.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (84)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

84. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the projected capital funding for social housing per annum up to 2027 as announced in the national development plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9483/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As reflected in the National Development Plan 2018 – 2027, some €11.6 billion in capital funding will be provided for the delivery of 112,000 new social housing homes over the next decade.

These 112,000 new social housing homes will be delivered through a range of mechanisms, including build, long term leasing and acquisitions. It should be noted that the delivery of the 112,000 new 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).  

The specific capital allocations underpinning the various social housing delivery programmes for each year out to 2027 will be determined in the context of the annual estimates process and will reflect the blend of delivery methods and approaches required to deliver on the targets, set out in the National Development Plan.

Fire Safety

Ceisteanna (85)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

85. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has received the report of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management's high level taskforce leading reappraisal of fire safety here; the recommendations of the taskforce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9581/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 14 June 2017, and in recognition of fears expressed for fire safety, I tasked my Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management with convening and coordinating a high-level Task Force to lead a re-appraisal of fire safety in Ireland.

Local authorities were directed also to undertake a review of fire safety in multi-storey social housing buildings and also to review fire safety in medium to high rise buildings in their functional areas. The Task Force was requested to oversee and report on these initial actions as well as reviewing existing arrangements and systems for fire safety and related issues which impact on fire safety in Ireland.  As it carries out its work, the Task Force is considering information and developments arising from inquiries and reviews in the UK of the Grenfell Tower fire.

This initial work in relation to both multi-storey social housing buildings and medium to high rise buildings has been carried out and all local authorities have reported back to my Department as requested. The Fire Safety Task Force established two sub-groups which have reviewed the returns received.

The returns indicate that multi-storey social housing buildings in Ireland are generally designed, built and equipped appropriately for domestic fire risk, although a number of fire safety issues were identified and followed up.

In the category of medium to high rise buildings (greater than 6 stories or 18 m high), more than 800 buildings were identified  through the national survey undertaken. A number of these were identified as having external cladding which gave rise to concerns and in these cases building owners have been required by local authorities, using their powers under the Fire Services Act, to undertake fire safety assessments in these specific buildings. National guidance on further actions in light of the results of these fire safety assessments, taking account of emerging information on the cladding issue from international sources, was prepared by the Task Force Sub-Group and was published by my Department in December 2017. The assessment process in individual buildings, and remediation work where deemed necessary in a small number of buildings, is on-going and may continue for some time.

The intended preparation of an interim report from the Task Force was impacted by a number of severe weather events in late 2017, including ex-Hurricane Ophelia, which required temporary re-prioritising of the National Directorate’s resources. However, the work of the Task Force has now advanced significantly and I expect to be provided with their report in the next few weeks. When I have had time to consider the Report and its recommendations, I will decide on and announce follow-up actions aimed at further enhancing fire safety in Ireland.

Homeless Persons Data

Ceisteanna (86)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

86. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason for the delay in the publication of the figures for homelessness for February 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9703/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Official homeless reports are published on my Department's website on a monthly basis. These reports capture details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements, that are overseen by housing authorities.  The reports are based on data provided to my Department by housing authorities and are published as soon as possible each month, following their analysis and verification.   

As such, the reports are usually published in the month subsequent to that for which the data was gathered and this will continue to be the practice in  2018.