I propose to take Questions Nos. 80, 89, 220 and 221 together.
I very much welcome the National Economic and Social Council's (NESC) report, Urban Development Land, Housing and Infrastructure: Fixing Ireland's Broken System, published last month and I commend NESC on its contribution to evidence-based policy-making in publishing this excellent report.
In developing this report, NESC consulted with my Department on both current and planned policy measures in relation to active land management and there will be continued engagement with regard to the issues and recommendations raised therein. In addition, as the report was brought to the attention of all my Cabinet colleagues, its publication and findings are very timely, given the whole-of-Government focus on achieving a more effective, strategic approach to land management for residential and infrastructural development.
The report is very much consistent with the Government's approach to housing supply and land management, and in particular the Council's emphasis on the importance of not returning to the speculative and unstable system of home building that we have previously witnessed in this country. Moreover, the report addresses a number of challenges identified in the Government’s long-term spatial strategy, Project Ireland 2040, including the provision of more affordable homes to buy or rent for a growing proportion of the population and a sustained increase in the level of investment in public infrastructure.
NESC also points out that public institutions need a strong developmental mandate, political authorisation, and executive capacity to drive housing supply and sustainable urban development, and endorses the NPF commitment to establish new National Regeneration and Development Agency as a positive step in this direction. It is envisaged that the Agency will act as a national centre of expertise, working with and supporting local authorities, public bodies and other interests, to harness public lands as catalysts to stimulate regeneration and wider investment and to achieve compact, sustainable growth, with a particular emphasis on complex regeneration projects. The Government is currently working on finalising arrangements for the establishment of the Agency.