The development of any residential land in housing authority ownership is in the first instance a matter for the local authority concerned, including its elected members. I want to see local authorities realise new social and affordable homes from their lands without delay, with particular emphasis on prioritising those sites with the greatest potential to deliver housing at scale, in the short to medium term.
The active management of the publicly owned housing land bank is part of a range of complementary actions being progressed under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, designed to accelerate and increase housing output. Details of some 1,700 hectares of land in local authority and Housing Agency ownership have been published on the Rebuilding Ireland Housing Land Map as available at http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-land-map/.
To date, State-led residential construction has focused primarily on helping to meet the needs of households in the lowest income brackets, through the social housing programme. With increased investment to deliver 50,000 new social homes by 2021, the significant expansion of the social housing build programme is evident in the Quarter 4 2017 Social Housing Construction Status Report, which was published on 19 April. The programme includes 846 schemes (or phases) at the end of last year, delivering over 13,400 homes, a very substantial increase on the 8,430 homes in the programme a year earlier. The full report can be accessed at http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-q4-2017/.
Work is ongoing to update the Rebuilding Ireland Housing Land Map to reflect the relevant elements of the Q4 2017 Social Housing Construction Status Report and the PPP Programme and details will be published on the Map, at the link referred to above, once finalised.
Details on the number of properties purchased and built in each local authority area are available on my Department’s website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/node/6338.
I have also advised all local authorities of their minimum Social Housing Targets both for 2018 and also for the multi-annual period to 2021, details of which can be accessed on my Department's website at: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordable/minister-murphy-publishes-quarter-4-2017-social-housing.
In order to underpin progress on affordable housing delivery, I have now commenced the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the effect of which is to place the new Scheme for affordable purchase on a statutory footing. From engagements with the local authorities in Dublin, the wider Greater Dublin Area, as well as Cork and Galway cities, their initial estimates suggest that they have lands with the potential to deliver some 4,000 new affordable homes. My Department is continuing to work with the key local authorities and the Housing Agency to identify sites which would see the level of ambition increase to at least 10,000 new affordable homes, and that analysis is progressing well. Significant progress has been made on individual projects, such as the O'Devaney Gardens and Oscar Traynor Road sites in the Dublin City Council area.
With regard to cost rental, I am determined for it to become a major part of our rental landscape in the future. It is clear that there is a gap between social housing and the rental market that needs to be filled, making a sustainable impact on housing affordability, national competitiveness, and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.
The Housing Agency, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and a number of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have been working to get our first cost rental pilot, at Enniskerry Road, ready for tenders to issue shortly. In parallel, Dublin City Council, my Department and the National Development Finance Agency are undertaking detailed modelling and financial appraisal on a major site, at St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, to assess its suitability for a significant cost rental development. The work of that multi-disciplinary team is progressing well and should be concluded shortly.
In order to support local authorities to get their sites ready for affordable housing, I have decided to provide additional funding for enabling infrastructure via the Serviced Sites Fund. Given that housing-related infrastructure will now be able to avail of funding under the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, I am re-directing the €50m funding for Phase 2 of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to the Serviced Sites Fund, increasing the scale of the fund from the previously announced €25m to €75m. When local authority co-funding is included, an overall minimum investment of €100 million will be provided to those sites that require infrastructural investment in order for them to be brought into use for affordable housing. In order to drive early activity, I will be inviting applications for funding under the Serviced Sites Fund by the end of next week.
From a longer-term strategic perspective, as part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government announced on 16 February its intention to establish a new National Regeneration and Development Agency, which will have a role in managing the State's wider publicly-owned land bank to ensure that overall development needs, including housing, are met. The new Agency will work closely with local authorities, Government Departments, Agencies and other State and semi-State bodies to secure the best use of public lands and ensure the delivery on the objectives of the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan.